Lord of the Flies review – Stunning performances and true scares on Warwick stage

'Is this what we are really like?': Playbox's production of Lord of the Flies'Is this what we are really like?': Playbox's production of Lord of the Flies
'Is this what we are really like?': Playbox's production of Lord of the Flies
Nick Le Mesurier reviews Lord of the Flies, directed by Emily Quash and presented by Playbox Theatre at the Dream Factory, Warwick

Playbox Theatre brought all its magnificent energy, talent, and skill to bear on William Golding’s now classic novel, Lord of the Flies, in a version by Nigel Williams which was first produced at the RSC in 1995.

Watching it in the round in Playbox’s huge arena it took on a life of its own. It’s not a pleasant life. Following a plane crash on a tropical island a group of schoolboys try to survive by building a new civilisation. Their best efforts quickly descend into chaos, exposing the violent, tribal reality that lies beneath the civilised skin. Is this what we are really like?

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It’s hard to say no, especially when captivated by Playbox’s utterly compelling vision. As often with Playbox, the play commanded a huge cast, crowds acting as freely and with as much recognisable character as individuals. At first, they’re under the command of Ralph (Quillan Mitchell), a flamboyant but essentially decent leader, who is usurped by the much more aggressive Jack (Nathanael Saleh). Jack’s followers drench themselves in blood and revel in the hunt, first for a pig, then for a mythical Beast (Corin Alford) who haunts the island, and is a dead ringer for Colonel Kurtz in the film Apocalypse Now. Inevitably they turn on each other, first Simon (Ben Foulerton) and then Piggy (Theo Jobbins), a short-sighted lad who talks sense and reason and who is thus an open target.

The performances throughout were stunning, not least in the incredible ability of some of the characters to perform impeccably while climbing ropes! Theo Jobbins gave his stumbling, fussy character a real pathos and dignity. Ralph and Jack were perfectly contrasted as two very different leaders. Jack especially revelled in his lust for blood. Ralph showed a real complexity and depth of character. The crowd scenes were truly scary.

If I have caveats they might be that the ending came very abruptly, and there were one or two mystical elements that seemed to sit uneasily with the brutal reality of the rest of the play.

Caveats aside, Playbox creates some of the finest theatre in the region. I only wish the run of this play had been longer, for it deserved to be seen by more people.

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