A review by Carmen Nasr for EXTRA! EXTRA!

 

 

Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre presents

 

Lord of the Flies

Alistair Toovey as Piggy and Ralph in Lord of the Flies at Regent's Park Open Air Theatre

Photo Johan Persson

 

by William Golding
 
Adapted for the stage by Nigel Williams
 
Directed by Timothy Sheader
 
Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre

 

19 May – 18 June 2011

 

 

 

From the audible gasps, excited chatter and visible goggling, it was clear that the very first glimpse of Jon Bausor’s breathtakingly impressive set of a smouldering plane wreckage had the crowd mesmerised. Nestled among the towering trees that surround Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre’s stunning outdoor venue, the part submerged tail-end of a fallen passenger jet is scattered with a disarray of suitcases, clothes and mangled debris. With the gradually darkening sky as the backdrop, and smoke from the wreckage hanging ominously in the evening air, it is the perfect setting for Lord of the Flies’ riveting descent into the horrors of human savagery.

William Golding’s 1954 novel, adapted for the stage by Nigel Williams, sees a group of young schoolboys marooned on a desert island following a plane crash. What begins as an exciting, if slightly surreal adventure soon disintegrates into an increasingly unsettling power struggle between elected leader Ralph and upstart Jack. As order and authority gradually break down, the boys enter into a terrifying world of violence, sinister primal desires and the most brutal of ungoverned human behaviour.

Director Timothy Sheader retells this well known, yet ever thrilling tale through a feast of deliciously atmospheric original music, frantic and agile physical theatre, bursts of fire, stomping of feet, blood painted faces and the haunting tribal chanting and screeches of a very talented young cast. With a certain poetic chaos, the production unleashes on the audience the equally human pulls of liberation from authority and inclination towards organised civilisation. A visceral expression of one of the most basic yet troubling struggles of human nature, the production is at once exciting, tender and disturbing.

Although the show pulls out all the stops when it comes to production values and performance, my only quibble is that the first half felt a little too long and dialogue at times became repetitive.

However the darkened sky that enveloped the second half of liberated savagery brought out a sinister glow in the fire and some fine performances from the cast. James Clay handled the progressive degeneration of power hungry Jack into violent malice with finesse, while Matt Ingram as sidekick Roger brought an edge of madness to the proceedings. George Bukhari as blundering Piggy was on top form for his professional debut.

Perfectly suited to the natural elements at the disposal of this inspirational outdoor venue, and with a set that is almost an installation piece in its own right, Lord of the Flies is a blistering opening for the theatre’s summer season.


Box office: 0844 826 4242
www.openairtheatre.com
Open Air Theatre
Inner Circle, Regent’s Park, London, NW1 4NR
7:45pm Mon – Sat & 2:15pm Wed, Thu and Sat (no matinee on May 26)
Tickets start at £19 to £46

 



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