William Golding’s classic allegorical novel that followed the brutal plight of a group of young boys stranded on a desert island makes its way to the Festival theatre this week. Adapted for the stage by Nigel Williams this touring version, directed by Timothy Sheader and Liam Steel for Regent’s Park London is a suitably explosive affair that will certainly provide an appropriate touchstone for anyone studying the text or fans of the book.
The staging is outstanding in this production. The set design by Jon Bausor is reminiscent of the opening scenes of the pilot of Lost, and certainly has that initial shock factor. A large crashed passenger jet engulfs the stage with its contents strewn around it and into the audience. It looks fantastic and provides plenty of hidden contrapments and ingenious staging options throughout the production.
As the boys gradually take the stage, the battle for power begins as the boys clash over rules and leadership. Whilst the energy of the young cast can’t be flawed as they jolt around the stage there is a lack of light and shade to the performances. The tone of the vocals of the cast remains at one high pitched level which becomes overwhelming and characterisation generally gets lost in the mix. A few cast members do get their moment to shine however, including Anthony Roberts bringing a dopey likeability to the doomed Piggy.
There are some awkward modern references wedged into the mix that don’t really add much to proceedings. Fans of the novel may be at odds with the addition of Miley Cyrus and selfie sticks making an appearance. Still, the heart of the novel remains there and the production is loyal to Golding’s classic tale. It remains a terrifyingly disturbing tale of the dark side of human nature and this moody, atmospheric adaptation is a fine testament to the brilliance of its source.