“There is a beast. Because I saw it”.
I saw the beast of a show that is EUTCO’s latest Northcott offering, a contemporary retelling of William Golding’s ‘Lord of The Flies’. Casting aside any harrowing memories of GCSE English Literature, the production charges into the 21st century.
It’ll make you laugh, it’ll make you cry, and most importantly, it’ll make you think
Directed by India Howland and Will Pinhey, the play has been given a fresh lick of paint so to speak. The all-male cast has been updated so that six of the characters are now female; Piggy, Jack, Maurice, Simon, with the character of Henry remaining male. Perhaps most interesting is the decision to turn the sadistic and frankly cruel character of Roger into Rosie; Laura Jackson spectacularly employs her femininity to inform her interpretation, transforming a character who would have been a brutish boy to a precise and chilling psychopath. For those of you who have seen ‘Killing Eve’, think a younger Villanelle – cold, calculating, and completely brilliant.
we’re absolved of responsibility as soon as it’s branded a ‘game’
In terms of the ensemble, I’d go as far as to say it is one of the strongest ensemble performances I’ve seen whilst at university. Each character holds their own unique identity throughout. From the nervy spaced-out and ill-fated Simon, played by Patrick Swain, to the double act of Sam and Erica, played by Lila Boschet and Mima Beauchamp respectively, there is no mistaking who is who. Distinct personalities quickly became apparent, even from those actors who might not have had the most line heavy roles.
Emma-Kate Barry’s Rachel (formerly Ralph) is the perfect opponent to Samuel Nicholls’ tyrannical Jack. Barry refrains from being too over the top complimenting Nicholls’ descent into pure madness so nothing about either performance appears self-indulgent.
one of the strongest ensemble performances I’ve seen whilst at university
The invisible 12th character of the production is the incredible soundtrack courtesy of Music Director Hum Chanda. Recorded with a live band and then blended with synthetic sounds, the music flashes from pretty piano chords to thrashing percussion and piercing strings. Always wonderfully timed, the music characterises each scene in which it’s used (my personal favourite was the piece of music used at the formation of the two tribes). Jack and his soldiers chanting ‘hunt’ whilst the music plays, almost incites the audience participation. It is reminiscent of a sort of cult ritual, perhaps another comparison that the directors hope to leave with the audience.
This is certainly a show that’s going to be talked about for a long while
In an enlightening conversation with the directors, they elaborated their vision for the show is to shift from the colonialist vibe of the original novel to a tale of modern day fascism. Instead of emphasising the loss of control and structure prompting the savagery, the directors chose to shift focus onto the excess of control. In today’s turbulent political climate, is a clear and insightful comment on our world leaders. During some of the most chaotic scenes between the two tribes, I found myself wondering which tribe I’d be in. Would I remain seemingly decent like Piggy? Or would survival instinct and blood lust kick in? The audience will obviously be shocked at the level of violence, however we’re absolved of responsibility as soon as it’s branded a ‘game’. These are questions that we are unwittingly faced with on the daily, just with fewer pig corpses and supposedly more civilised behaviour. I’ve never read the original novel, however I think this new message being put across through Howland and Pinhey’s direction is far more relevant today than Golding’s.
Without a doubt, my advice to you is go and see this show. There aren’t enough words for me to accurately do this production justice. This is certainly a show that’s going to be talked about for a long while. It’ll make you laugh, it’ll make you cry, and most importantly, it’ll make you think.
Lord of The Flies is running at the Northcott Theatre from January 16th to January 19th (Saturday Matinee).