by William Golding adapted by Nigel Williams.

Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre NW1 4NR To 18 June 2011.
Mon-Sat 7.45pm Mat Wed, Thu & Sat 2.15pm.
Post-show Discussion 9 June 2,15pm, 16 June 2.15pm.
Runs 2hr 40min One interval.

TICKETS: 0844 826 4242.
Review: Mark Courtice 25 May.

Clever choice given fresh production.
In 1954 William Golding’s dystopian novel of boys marooned on a desert island after a plane crash – becoming more savage the longer they spend unsupervised – confirmed our worst suspicions that without elders and betters we will disgrace ourselves.

He also created a powerful fable of imperialism that meticulously anatomised English society, its snobbism and the casual cruelties of the class system as the boys reflect the world they have left.

It’s a clever choice for the Open Air Theatre. Amongst the neatly tended rose-beds of the Inner Circle at Regent’s Park, designer Jon Bausor co-opts the surrounding trees to create a sliver of jungle, shattered by the enormous and realistic wreckage of a Union Jack-logoed tailplane and fuselage. As planes pass serenely, if noisily, above it’s impossible not to wonder who’s in them and what they’ll find when they come to earth.

Piggy and Ralph find a sort of paradise. It’s the people they share it with, in the shape of a school choir led by prefect Jack, who are going to be the problem. They arrive singing hymns but soon turn into animalistic hunters, dancing savagely, daubed in blood.

Alastair Toovey as Ralph is genuinely moving as he reaches out to memories of his father to make sense of a world suddenly turned hostile. George Bukhari’s Piggy is not just a fat boy in specs but a nuanced character who delivers insights in a tone reflecting the fact he’s almost as surprised as us by the truth of them. Ralph and Piggy’s relationship, crucial to the play, is thoughtfully done. One of the boys jeers that they love each other and by the end we know they do, in the best sense of that word.

The standard of acting in the rest of the very young cast is variable, and both they and Nigel Williams’ adaptation run out of energy before the end, but Timothy Sheader’s production with its flickering fire and timeouts for symbolic dances feels young and fresh. Nick Powell’s effective score thunders, beats and rumbles, with occasional choral interludes more menacing than meditative in tone.

Piggy: George Bukhari.
Jack: James Clay.
Bill: Sam Clemmett.
Henry: Theo Cowan.
Roger: Matt Ingram.
Maurice: Jordan Maxwell.
Sam: James McConville.
Eric: Stuart Matthews.
Ralph: Alistair Toovey.
Simon: Joshua Williams.
Perceval: Harrison Sansostri/Spike White/Adam Thomas Wright.
Military Officer: Ken Christiansen.

Directors: Timothy Sheader, Liam Steel.
Designer: Jon Bausor.
Lighting: James Farncombe.
Sound: Mike Walker.
Composer/Sound Score: Nick Powell.
Voice coach/Text consultant: Barbara Houseman.
Dialect coach Majella Hurley.
Fight director: Kate Waters.
Associate designer Matthew Hellyer.

2011-05-31 02:42:20

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