Lord of the Flies by Nigel Williams, based on the book by William Golding
The Greenwich Theatre (short walk from Cutty Sark DLR station) until 24th March
2 hr 5 minutes, including an interval
Veronica Stein, 20th March, 2018.
Busy-ness and the power of silence
William Golding’s modern classic begins with the stranding of a group of young English schoolboys on a remote island. Lazarus Theatre Company’s production follows suit, but only after an involved, synchronized physical piece that couples organized formations and unbridled movements in a fitting fashion: what follows is a tale of savagery versus civility as they compete, both in hierarchical power structures and also within ourselves.
As the group of boys start to figure out how to move forward, two natural leaders emerge, Ralph (Amber Wadey) and Jack (Nick Cope). While the former favors a more rational approach to governance, the latter begins to lead a hunting expedition indicative of his proclivity for violence. Before long, the other boys choose their own leaders to become two groups on the same island- but before long even their basest desires find their way to fruition in nearly all of the boys, regardless of their initial choices. Perhaps, above all, Lord of the Flies asks not about the integrity of our decisions, but rather whether we even have a choice to begin with in the face of our naked humanity and no authority to guide us.
The strengths of Lazarus’s Production at the Greenwich primarily lie in the synergy of the ensemble who are on stage for nearly all of the play, and in moments of silence are particularly nuanced- Robyn Holdaway as Maurice is fantastic in her expressions as well as her quick, breezy delivery. Other standouts include Luke MacLeod as Piggy, the chronically teased and chronically correct second fiddle to Ralph, and Abbi Douetil as Percival, the energetic ‘littlun’ of the group whose charisma could at any point be construed for morbidity. Along with the interplay of the company, the production elements are slick and evocative- perhaps not of a deserted island, but they are unified nevertheless. The coldness of the color choices coupled with the stark blood decorating the hunters works with the harshness of Ben Jacobs’ striking lighting to create a bold setting, and Nicola Chang’s sound aids in constructing a perilous atmosphere. Indeed, Ricky Dukes does wonders with the largely empty Greenwich stage to provide texture and altitude in his direction, important when the landscape discussed includes mountains and a vast plot of uninhabited land.
Some murkier aspects of the storytelling are the lack of clarity with the age range of these children, as well in some surprises that are left unexplained that are quite confusing for those who haven’t previously read the novel. The stakes start very high (especially in the tight, rhythmic opening number), and possibly too high, for it is difficult no matter how strong the ensemble to build to a gripping conclusion.
Lord of the Flies is a terrifying story of the depths within us and our ability to do evil. There are several memorable characters that are brought to the stage winningly in Lazarus Theatre Company’s production, as well as some wonderful production elements and aesthetic choices- but overall it is not quite as shocking as it should be.
Ralph: Amber Wadey
Piggy: Luke MacLeod
Jack: Nick Cope
Roger: Georgina Barley
Simon: Benjamin Victor
Eric: Calvin Crawley
Sam: Nell Hardy
Percival: Abbi Douetil
Henry: James Russell-Morley
Maurice: Robyn Holdaway
Bill: Michael Holden
Adapted and Directed by: Ricky Dukes
Co-Movement Director: Julia Cave
Designer: Alfie Heywood
Lighting Design: Ben Jacobs
Sound Design: Nicola Chang
Costume Design: Rebecca Carpenter
Associate Producer: Gavin Harrington-Odedra
Dramaturg: Sara Reimers
Stage Manager: Charlotte R L Cooper
Assistant Director: Josh Hinds
Company Photographer: Adam Trigg
Production Graphic Designer: Will Beeston