Review: Lord of the Flies, Grand Opera House

Photo: Johan Persson

Photo: Johan Persson

Vanessa Humphrey, Photography Editor

William Golding’s novel Lord of the Flies owed much of its dark intensity and momentum to the author’s participation in WWII, an experience that fostered his enthusiasm for literary extremes, where imagination, reality and philosophy are amalgamated. Inspired by R.M. Ballantyne’s Coral Island, Golding’s post-apocalyptic survivor story examines a collection of adolescent schoolboys who are marooned on a remote island following an airplane disaster. Crucially though, Ballantyne’s boys merely encounter evil, while Golding’s boys find evil within themselves. 

Nigel Williams’ adaptation for the stage, hosted by the Belfast Grand Opera House, nods to the failings of a self-interested and narcissistic contemporary culture; a snigger reverberates within the audience as the forsaken schoolboys attempt to “take a selfie” at the crash-site. This notion of societal obsession and self-indulgence infiltrates the stage, where concepts of illusion versus reality are contemplated throughout.

Photo: Johan Persson

Photo: Johan Persson

In his stage adaption, Williams constructs a vivid representation of youths who are released from convention and regulation, presenting an inconceivable view of humanity before thrusting the audience into conjectures about the natural condition of mankind. Gloomy yet exhilarating, Williams seizes the 1950’s novel and unearths its timeless and enduring truth; instigated by the presence of mankind, paradise is transformed into a sort of purgatory. A superbly exhilarating adventure on the exterior, but an allegory of the times within, Williams’ adaption of Golding’s original is an intensely powerful rendering that nourishes the novel’s intended meaning.

In particular, Matthew Castle’s convincing and mesmerizing portrayal of Roger, the merciless and innately cruel boy who ultimately permits himself to descend in to a torturous predator and delirious sadist, is at once brilliant and utterly chilling. Abandoning all sense of humanity and decency, Castle’s foreboding and ominous presence on-stage is overarching and consistently absorbing. Likewise, Anthony Roberts’ poignant representation of Piggy, the boy who epitomizes the rational world, is particularly captivating. Logical yet vulnerable, Roberts’ delivery of his character’s “what’s right’s right” monologue beautifully exposes the aphorism that, despite the absence of physical eyesight, Piggy is the sole proprietor of foresight and perception.

A superbly well-performed and choreographed stage play that is entirely captivating from start to finish, showing at the Grand Opera House Tuesday 22 – Saturday 26 September.

 

 

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