Theatre Review Lord of the Flies

THEATRE REVIEWLord of the FliesHunter Drama, at Hamilton Public School HallEnded SaturdayDIRECTOR Charlotte De Wit’s decision to use an all-female cast in Nigel Williams’ stage adaptation of William Golding’s story about schoolboys trying to survive after their plane crashes on a desert island showed how universal its characters and situations are.

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And while plans to stage the production outdoors in Blackbutt Reserve were shelved a couple of days before opening because of forecast wet weather, the presentation in a theatrical hall had the opening night audience watching intently through its 95-minute running time, with the actors and production team making good use of different levels and spaces bedecked with trees and plants to create the various island settings.

Onlookers were gripped from the opening moments, as the girls appeared singly and in groups, with the different school uniforms indicating the individuality that came through when they got together. The two girls who became leaders of incompatible teams, Alexandra Jensen’s Ralph and Isabelle Clements’ Jack, showed their natures from the outset, with Ralph putting forward the need to start and maintain a fire that would be visible from a rescue ship, and Jack being more intent on hunting for wild animals such as pigs. Jack’s bullying of Piggy (Evie Lawrence), a nervous girl wearing glasses, foreshadowed her later more vicious behaviour. The other eight actors – Kate Wooden, Matilda Dickinson, Ruby McNamara, Hannah Hickey, Jessica Morgan, Indigo Howland, Lucy Johnson and Bella Sykes – likewise brought out the very different natures of the survivors. Wooden’s Simon, for example, had a secret place in the jungle where she could relax, while Dickinson’s Roger, initially a loner, showed an increasingly violent streak as she became Jack’s second-in-command.

Lighting was used well to create the brightness of the fire and the darkness that descended onto the island. The changing nature of the clothes, with the different school costumes being discarded by most of the students and replaced by more drab and increasingly dirty wear, showed the passing of time. The appearance of blood on skins and clothes likewise made evident the growing desperation and barbarity of the girls, as they killed more animals and fought among themselves.