Writer: William Golding
Adaptor: Nigel Williams
Director: Emma Jordan
Reviewer: Clare Howdon
As you walk into Theatre Clwyd’s Anthony Hopkins space, your eyes are immediately drawn to the stunning set design by James Perkins. Perkins has certainly taken full advantage of Golding’s plane wreck and forest as the book’s central feature as an abundance of ramps and jagged multi-coloured poles dominate the stage. The result is pretty breath-taking.
Director Emma Jordan has wisely used the Nigel Williams adaptation of Lord of the Flies which, alongside her all-female cast, gives the production a contemporary and fresh feel from the outset. The play opens with the appearance of Ralph (Lola Adaja) and Piggy (Gina Fillingham), two schoolgirls who have survived a plane wreck and found themselves alone on a desert island. The two strike up a friendship and are quickly joined by the other surviving schoolgirls. After a brief struggle for leadership between Ralph and the already power-hungry Jack Merridew (Kate Lamb), Ralph becomes the leader of the tribe.
However, it doesn’t take long before the social concepts of decency, regulation and democracy are forgotten, and the anarchy sets in. Whilst Ralph’s priority is to keep a fire going as a smoke signal, Jack is more intent on hunting. Lamb plays the imposing and arrogant Jack admirably with an engaging physicality, whipping the girls into a frenzy with her chants and dances. Adaja is convincing as the essentially decent Ralph but it is Fillingham’s Piggy who steals the show, with an exceptional degree of comic timing and commanding stage presence, striking just the right balance between bolshie and vulnerable. Lowri and Mari Izzard work well together as twins Sam and Eric, creating some delightful moments of choral speech.
As the play gets darker and emotions rise, the 10-strong cast do tend to descend into a lot of repetitive shouting and this slows the pace and diminishes the sinister finesse of the piece, becoming a little too reminiscent of the trivial squabblings of a sixth form common-room. Jordan’s production is much more effective in the subtler moments between Ralph and Piggy. However, the menace is certainly rekindled in Act 2 and Liz Ranken’s choreography alongside Bethan Clark’s fight direction allows the movement to remain tight whilst also retaining the raw tribal energy of the abandoned girls. As the tension mounts and the lights dim in the tribe’s suspense-filled hunt for Ralph, the production certainly strikes a powerful and aesthetically pleasing image, creating an incredible atmosphere of primal savagery. There are also some wonderful surprise elements within Perkin’s set; the fire works remarkably well, as does the girls’ skulking around amidst the stylised forest design.
Despite some flaws in the pacing and performances, this production is an energetic, visceral and intense take on Golding’s classic text.
Runs until 14 October 2018 | Image: Contributed