Lord of the Flies review Aki Nakagawa, Patrick Dineen, Jason Battersby, Nate Leung, Justice Ezi, Sade Malone in Lord of the Flies. Photograph Anthony Robling

Review: Lord of the Flies

Review: Lord of the Flies

Impressive performances from a young cast dealing with dark subjects


The eery outline of palm trees and subdued otherworldly lighting set the scene that all is not well on a desert island. And anyone even remotely familiar with William Golding’s iconic tale, written in 1954, knows that all is far from well. The audience is quickly transported into this chilling story: there’s a plane crash, a disparate group of children are wandering around trying to make sense of what has happened, there’s a war on and they have been evacuated. But where the hell are the adults? It becomes clear they are all alone. They need a leader, they need food, shelter and protection – there is a ‘beast’ on the island. But they all have very different ideas of who should be in charge and who they should follow. And that’s the crux of the tale where human nature is not only explored but ripped apart and revealed in all its possible hideousness.

Adapted for the stage by Nigel Williams and directed by Amy Leach, the story has been brought into the 21st century while remaining loyal to the original. The changes are welcome ones. The novel features a group of privileged white boys but the play offers a diverse cast. For example, a female actor plays Ralph. Piggy – whose glasses are stolen to make fire – is played by Jason Connor, a partially sighted actor. There are also two actors with deafness who communicate in sign language.

All the young cast members are incredible. It’s a demanding piece of theatre, physically and emotionally, and they rise to it brilliantly. You see their inner turmoil. Or, in Roger’s (Jason Battersby) case, his psychotic swagger.

It does have some flaws – the first half is overly long (and the second, curiously short) and while the chanting of ‘kill the pig’ all through it does build tension it could be trimmed in parts.

But this is an impressive piece of theatre and one that sticks in your mind long afterwards – the slow motion fight scene bathed in red light is particularly well done. Chilling and clever.

A Leeds Playhouse and Belgrade Coventry co-production, presented in association with Rose Theatre.
Recommended age 12+

Rose Theatre until 22 April and touring.

Image: Anthony Robling