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Saturday, 12 March 2016

Review: Lord of the Flies at Newcastle Theatre Royal




Stunning Classic Brought To Life

Lord of the Flies 
Newcastle Theatre Royal
Saturday 12th March 2016

A stunning set and a fabulous young cast combine to bring William Golding’s 1954 classic into life.

Photo Johan Persson
Newcastle’s Theatre Royal had a captioned & audio described performance for Disabled Access Day for the matinee performance. Anything which helps make theatre more inclusive has to be congratulated. The Theatre Royal is making a real effort with inclusive performances such as autistic friendly children’s shows and this has been recognised nationally. The captioning could easily be ignored by those that didn’t need it but still seen by those that did.

Keenan Munn-Francis as Simon
Photo Johan Persson
Lord Of The Flies is a regular text for GCSE studies and it was pleasing to see the stalls had large numbers of teenagers. They were being exposed to a brilliant example of theatre and hopefully will be back soon.  The pressure was on for the young cast as most of the audience will have studied the source in minute detail.

Matthew Castle as Roger
Photo Johan Persson
In 1954 Britain was gripped by the Cold War. There was every likelihood that an escalation in any hostilities could result in full scale nuclear war. In this scenario Golding has a plane carrying lots of schoolchildren crashing on a deserted island. The adults died in the crash leaving a number of lads, in school uniforms, defending for themselves.


Anthony Roberts as Piggy
Photo Johan Persson
Ralph meets Piggy near the rear section of the plane and, at first, they recognise a sense of adventure. They also realise that they should try to get rescued by any passing ships or planes. They find a large shell and Ralph blows into it. This results in other boys that had been scattered around the area heading to the source of the noise. Amongst them is school prefect Jack who leads a small group of the school choir. The group are excited by the lack of adult control but are divided about how to proceed. From the beginning there is rivalry for the alpha position between Ralph and Jack. The boys elect Ralph as the leader who then decides to hold the first of many meetings.

Freddie Wakins and Luke Ward-Wilkinson as Jack and Ralph
Photo Johan Persson
The story explores how there will be challenges on the pecking order of a group of people. It also shows how there is not only a group that assume leadership but there is also a group that seem to end up getting bullied. In between are those who are happy to be led.

Thiago (left) and Fellipe Pigatto.
Photo Johan Persson
In this adaptation by Nigel Williams there has been a small amount of updating. The Timothy Sheader directed show starts with a mobile phone on a selfie stick, though the image cannot go on Instagram as there is “no 3G here.”

What holds the show together is a fabulously talented young cast. They give the audience characters that one believes in and cares about. Luke Ward-Wilkinson and Freddie Watkins come across as leadership material in their roles as Ralph and Jack. Anthony Roberts is vulnerable yet adult as Piggy. Matthew Castle is suitably scary as the tough Roger. Fellipe Pigatto and Thiago Pigatto do well to keep their dialogue in sink as the twins Eric and Sam. One worries about Maurice and Simon thanks to the clever portrayals by Michael Ajao and Keenan Munn-Francis.

Freddie Watkins as Jack
Photo Johan Persson
The set is very impressive. A whole tail section of a plane, and the luggage it once held, fills the stage and it provides many levels for the action to take place. Jon Bausor’s design allows the cast to split up on a number of levels and still remain in few of the theatre audience. The pulse of the show is aided by Nick Powell’s sound score that includes a number of slow motion fight or chasing scenes. 

Lord Of The Flies is a gripping tale that examines the human condition along the expectations of society. A confident young cast deliver a strong performance on a cleverly designed set. The tale studied by many at school came alive and is very much relevant today.

This review was written by Stephen Oliver for Jowheretogo PR (www.jowheretogo.com). Follow Jo on twitter @jowheretogo, Stephen @panic_c_button or like Jowheretogo on Facebook www.facebook.com/Jowheretogo.

Read the North East Theatre Guide preview:

The tour continues to Bromley Churchill Theatre from the 15th-19th March 2016. Tickets are available on 0844 871 7620 or www.atgtickets.com/bromley




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