Venue: Mayflower Theatre Southampton
The Regent’s Park Theatre version of Lord of the Flies is based on the 1954 novel by William Golding. I seem to be one of the few who didn’t read Lord of the Flies for GCSE English and I haven’t picked up the book since, so I was going in with an open mind and didn’t really know what to expect.
Lord of the Flies delves into a dystopian world where a group of young boys between the ages of 6 and 12 find themselves accidently stranded after their plane was shot down from the sky. The play shows how the boys are divided into two groups – one which tries to maintain order and one which descends into utter chaos. At the beginning Ralph and Piggy (Anthony Roberts) try to call out all the survivors of the crash using a conch shell. There was some semblance of order on the island for a while until paranoia about a beast on the island kicks in and the boys begin to turn on each other.
For me the real selling point of this play is the design; Jo Bausor – the designer, Paul Keogan – Lighting Designer and Avgoustos Psillas – Sound Designer have done a stellar job at putting this production together. I would like to see how this was done in the Regents Park Open Air Theatre as I think it would bring a whole new level to the design. That being said this is without a doubt one of the most impressive pieces of staging that I have seen. Bausor’s awe inspiring set design includes a crashed plane with its contents thrown across the stage, which the children use as their playground. Keogan’s use of stage lighting was used to highlight different places on the island and separated different things that were happening simultaneously.
The cast were enthusiastic and passionate about the production which really came across; it must have been hard for the group to perform to a venue only filled to about a quarter of its capacity. Luke Ward – Wilkinson did a sterling job of leading the cast as Ralph, the charismatic leader who tries to be diplomatic.
Nigel Williams’ adaptation which may have been better as a one act play included a few updated 21st Century mod cons, what’s a 21st Century play without a selfie stick and boarding “the banter bus”, hey? To me, it just didn’t fit with the dystopian element of the production and seemed out of place. Whilst I have no problem with making classics relatable to a younger more modern audience, Golding’s classic didn’t benefit from the upgrade into the world of smartphones.
The play was lacking depth and the shock value was often lost on me. With a range of diverse themes and parallels to everyday life I was expecting the play to have more of a lasting impression on me as I left the theatre.
The production finished playing at the Mayflower on the 3rd of October before moving on to Cambridge and 16 other venues across the Country.