As a British kid, I bet you likely read Lord of the Flies in school. Of course, when I was younger, I didn’t really understand it – why were the kids so chaotic? Why would they do the things they did? After seeing the play, it got me so gripped that after innumerable years since I’ve read the novel… I FINALLY GOT IT.
As you slowly build yourself into the world of Lord of the Flies, the tension is as thick as you can imagine the air is on their remote island. A group of British school kids, stranded after a crash within the midst of wartime, flock together and then chaos ensues. Arguments are fought and won, egos are bruised and bodies are battered – a tangible frenzy is built to the point where you feel like there’s nothing these kids won’t do to get one up on each other…
The young and diverse cast themselves were absolutely astounding to watch – all of them perfectly capturing their characters and not a single hair was out of place (metaphorically speaking of course, since half the time they were costumed in various states of bedraggled school uniforms). A very simple set, with no scenery changes, minimal props and some simple visual effects meant that these young actors had to do a lot of heavy lifting in their performance – and they were fully up to the task.
The play also made some really excellent steps in bringing in diversity – special mention for the two ‘best friend’ characters depicted as deaf – a bold choice that paid off really well. It added an extra dimension of empathy for those secondary characters and made you realise just how lost they’d be without one another.
Somehow when you’re in this slow-burning pulse of unease that builds through the play, you’re transported to the island with them (which admittedly did not happen for me when I read the book as a child – but I had a great imagination so maybe it was just school that discouraged me…) The book itself is not complex but the play adds another level of tension – it’s visceral, graphic and thought-provoking!
That said – despite the foreshadowing and ever-present threat to the characters’ survival, this play has added a great injection of humour and charm. It takes you light-heartedly through infuriating situations where they just won’t listen to one another, while always making you think… what would I have done in this situation? Where would I have been in this school-kid hierarchy? Would I kill… or be killed?
Overall, well worth a watch! This adaptation really brings to life what the novel couldn’t. With deep and psychological themes peppered with laughter and lovable characters, it is a fantastically entertaining piece of work and of course, it’s good to get out and support your local theatre!
Special thanks to the Belgrade for inviting me to the press night performance.