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Lord of the Flies

Festival Theatre, Edinburgh
Four stars


It's telling that it's a British Airways style Union Jack crest ripped asunder on the tail of the decapitated passenger plane that's been bombed out of the sky at the opening of Regent's Park Theatre's touring stage version of William Golding's novel. As it's colonialist history has made clear, behind the flag's stiff-upper-lipped veneer lays a symbol of something altogether less edifying.

That history is all but acted out in microcosm in Timothy Sheader's production of Nigel Williams' adaptation, which begins with jungle drums beating hard as the surviving schoolboys of the crash are thrown together on an unknown island. With Luke Ward-Wilkinson's Ralph an unassumingly wide-eyed outcast whose authority is challenged by the tribalism and mob rule of Freddie Watkins' Jack
and his gang, their little boys games soon get very serious indeed.

Played out on the vast expanse of Jon Bausor's detritus-littered set, Williams' script is peppered with visual and linguistic updates, from laptops and selfie sticks to references to Bear Grylls and I'm A Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here, but there are far more significant parallels which don't need rewriting.

Substitute Jack's rhetoric about the need for spears to protect themselves from some mythical beast for weapons of mass destruction, and it's not difficult to recognise some real-life bogeymen. Jack's bullying of Anthony Roberts' Piggy and fear of anyone 'weirdy' is also telling, even as his self-absorbed dance moves resemble the last dregs of a suburban rave. Through all of this, Sheader and his large ensemble cast have created a thrillingly timeless look at Golding's parable of corrupted civilisation which suggests that barbarism really does begin at home.

The Herald, October 15th 2015




ends

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