Whats on Stage, Review, Lord of the Flies

As I skirted the beautiful glass fronted semi-circle of Leicester’s multi-million pound, state of the art theatre, the overriding thought in my head was- the world is a very different place to the 1954 into which William Golding released his allegorical novel.

It is patently obvious that we haven’t learned the lessons that Golding intended us to; horrors at least as visceral and unfathomable as those described in the book populate our papers, on a daily basis. The question is, does the tale warrant a retelling or is our society desensitised, as the press would have us believe?

The story for those who haven’t read the novel, follows a group of British schoolboys after their plane crashes on an island, having been sent from England to escape a war. Initially they treat their island paradise as a game, but upon realising that there are no adults to preside over them, they soon split into factions and give in to the more primal side of their nature, falling into savagery, madness and eventually murder. Written during the height of the Cold War the book operates on a deeper level as an allegory for the conflict between civilisation and wildness, and the schism between

morality and immorality. So, how has it stood the test of time, and how have Pilot Theatre brought such a well known book up to date?

Very well, it turns out. Beginning with the plane crash as a choreographed piece of dance/action, that made the hairs on my neck stand up, and ending with a sobbing Ralph alone on stage, the production was never less than clever and often breath taking. The set consisted of a movable section of the plane’s fuselage, which through a series of pivots could act as a hill, the jungle, the camp and a number of other locations. It was simple, but effective. The actors, all much older than the characters, captured the descent from childish excitement into madness perfectly, Dominic Doughty was particularly strong as the tragic Piggy and Lachlan McCall brought a disturbingly psychotic edge to his portrayal of Roger. There were a couple of wonderful moments where sections from the book were turned into monologues; with Ralph describing his childhood bedroom and the later a commentary of Piggy’s death.

Of course, in any stage adaptation you lose elements of the

original source material and I personally would have liked to have seen more of the interaction with the “Lord of the flies” itself. But this is a minor gripe over what was a skilful, and pacy retelling of an old favourite. I remember being terrified of the story as a child and despite the half-century which has passed since it’s inception, the core events are still just as shocking.

Is “Lord of the Flies” still pertinent? Yes. It has to be, and probably even more so now. The rapid degeneration of the human soul when the vestiges of society are stripped away is a warning that we should all heed.