Writer: William Golding
Music: Terry Davies
Director/Choreographer: Scott Ambler
Director: Matthew Bourne
Reviewer: Rich Jevons
If ever there was an inspiring show promoting ballet for boys, forget STOMP or Billy Elliot (good as they are), instead think Matthew Bourne’s incredible creation of Lord of the Flies. It’s over decade since Isaw Pilot Theatre’s theatrical adaptation of the William Golding classic and Ican still feel the itch from Sandy Nuttgens’ soundtrack. And still hear the cast’s yells and practically feel the simulated blows too.
Bourne’s production similarly uses Terry Davies’ score both to set the scene with a choirboy chorus and then develops with the action into tribal chants. As well as being an ambassador for young male dancers Bourne also brings up two contemporary subjects facing our youth: bullying and gang war. But this is in no way a preachy or even worthy piece – it is pure spectacle itself, invigorating and challenging.
The group dynamics are intense and complex depicting tribalism, the hunt, violence and its ultimate consequences. It is about power-mad leaders and their fearful followers using both frenetic action and at times subtle frieze or slow motion. The young ensemble is perfectly capable of expressing these adult subjects in this abstract world with the survival of the fittest.
It is as if these perfectly ‘normal’ schoolboys have been stripped of all manners and etiquette, all notions of norm, and begun to work on total instinct, back to the beast within us. The lack of parental control sees them develop their own primitive power systems. Piggy is the character we all recall from the novel and, indeed, here Sam Plant stands out as the myopic asthmatic victim who is the brunt of so many of the unbearable beatings.
The set – intended to be an abandoned theatre – serves perfectly to depict the status games, the jostling for position, the lust for power and, ultimately, a world of chaotic brutality. Scott Ambler’s choreography shines with its ultra-expressive gesture and movement, and the ensemble works like a tight-knit pack to speed the action through.
When, finally, a single soldier comes to rescue them and take them back to the ‘real’ world, the leaving of a young boy’s teddy expounds the loss of innocence embodied in the mass ordeal. If you like dance this is the top of the tree, if you’re new to dance you’ll be simply enthralled and entranced by this majestic and cathartic experience.
Runs until: 6 December 2014