REVIEW – Lord of the Flies (The Lowry, Salford)

LORD OF THE FLIES © Johan Persson/
© Johan Persson
Upstaged Rating: 

The sound of crickets chirping and the steady beat of tribal drums give way to shrieking and chanting. Boys with shredded school uniforms, ties wrapped around their heads and faces smeared with blood dart about the stage. Tumbling through foliage, climbing up mountains – they hold roughly sharpened sticks as they hunt down their prey.  

Written in 1954, Lord of the Flies is a novel by Nobel Prize-winning English author William Golding. The novel has become a staple text for many British school children and tells the story of a group of schoolboys who survive a catastrophic plane crash. What starts out as a desert island adventure quickly descends into a savage struggle for survival. In a habitat far from modern civilisation, these well-educated children regress to a primitive state.

Recommended for ages 11 and over, this sharp stage adaptation by Nigel Williams is gripping from beginning to end. With references to modern culture – instagram, reality TV shows and 3G – the language is fluid and succinct depicting the gangs merciless descent from island paradise into horror.

Jon Bausor’s crashed jet set design impresses, scattered components of the aircraft fill the stage allowing for the action to take place on multiple levels, creating the illusion of difficult  terrain. Under Timothy Sheader’s extraordinary direction, the boys swing and scramble over the strewn luggage and plane parts in their vicious fight for power and survival. Stylised slow motion choreography gives the production a cinematic feel, perfectly creating pace and tension; Nick Powell’s superb soundscape intelligently fuses natural sounds of the wild with the noise of pure horror and decay.

The cast have an unbelievable abundance of talent between them – their energetic performances were nothing short of faultless. Particular mentions must go to Connor Brabyn as Jack, the savage chief of the gang and his rival – moral minded Ralph, played by Luke Ward-Wilkinson. Anthony Roberts’ performance as Piggy was also phenomenal – the gasps from the audience during his final speech were a clear testament.

This is easily one of the finest pieces of theatre that I have seen this year. I spent most of the performance perched on the edge of my seat. Most of the audience was made up of school children and with not a peep or snigger heard from them throughout – that is a sign of a superb production.

Go and see.

-Kristy Stott

Lord of the Flies is at The Lowry until Saturday 5th December. The tour then continues at the Theatre Royal in Bath from the 12th January to 16th January 2016. For more tour dates through 2016 click here.