Nigel Williams’s stage adaption of Lord of the Flies was made for an open-air theatre setting so it was always going to be interesting to see how that transferred to a conventional theatre.
It was spectacular! Walking into the dimly-lit Cambridge Corn Exchange and seeing a plane wreck on stage, surrounded by scattered luggage and personal belongings, immediately set the scene and created the required tension.
The play, that still resonates in the modern age, is adapted from William Golding’s 1954 prize-winning novel, and in the opening scene, introduces us to Ralph and Piggy, two school boys who have survived a plane crash and found themselves on a desert island.
They strike up a friendship, but when they are joined by the other boys, tensions, frictions and schoolboy banter, edged with cruelty, begin to surface as the boys attempt to work out a pecking order in their struggle for survival,
After a battle for leadership between Ralph and Jack, Ralph becomes the leader of the tribe and turns his back on Piggy in order to gain more popularity. Ralph, the more sensible boy, wants to keep the fire going, but Jack creates a level of hysteria when he decides to encourage some of the boys to go hunting.
It is at this point that there is a divide in the camp and we see the strong characters jockeying for position. There are a few modern references thrown in as the boys take a “selfie” and talk about modern television programmes, but it is not clear why this was necessary. Are our boys from the modern age or are they 1950 home-spun lads with an air of innocence, if the latter then it seems talk of Ant and Dec and selfies is just a cheap gag.
As the play gets darker and the boys descend into savagery we see some stunning choreography as one scene is over laced over another. It could have been confusing, but it was beautiful to watch and the slow motion pieces were brilliantly executed.
The lighting and sound were cleverly done and in the second act the pace and energy is picked up so that the audience is carried along as things spiral out of control on the island.
In the last scene the boys are rescued by a helicopter and it honestly felt like you could feel the vibration and wonder if maybe there really was a helicopter landing on the roof of the Cambridge Corn Exchange!
Brilliantly done, and special mention for Anthony Roberts (Piggy) and David Evans who played Perceval.
INFO: Runs till October 10 at the Cambridge Corn Exchange, Recommended for age 11 upwards. Performances at 7.30pm with 2.30pm matinees Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday. Tickets are £32.50, £27.50, £22.50 from 01223 257851 or firstname.lastname@example.org.