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Lord of the Flies, the next generation

PUBLISHED: 16:18 14 October 2009 | UPDATED: 17:24 16 August 2010

THE apocalyptic overtones of William Golding s Lord of the Flies have been emphasised in an adaptation running at the Broadway Studio

THE apocalyptic overtones of William Golding's Lord of the Flies have been emphasised in an adaptation running at the Broadway Studio Theatre in Catford, writes Mark Campbell.

Director Cameron Jack brings Nigel Williams' stage version kicking and screaming into the science-fiction dystopia of 2019 where water wars are rife and the world is teetering on the brink of disaster.

A bunch of schoolboys miraculously escape from a sabotaged plane and are washed ashore on a deserted island. Amazingly, no adult has survived, nor a single female.

The story is thus played out in allegorical fashion, as the boys compete for alpha male status and (extremely quickly) descend into animalistic savagery, culminating in the cold-blooded murder of one of the weakest of their number.

Golding's 1954 novel made the distinction very clear between the well brought up posh schoolboys and their disturbing, yet inexorable, slide into primal violence.

Jack's production - and presumably Williams' adaptation - blurs these boundaries in a way that unbalances the allegorical nature of the piece.

These boys are anarchic, silly and unsophisticated from the very start. There's no feeling that the lack of parental control has in any way changed them, or released their 'wild side'.

Judging from their behaviour before the impressively mounted plane crash, they were a wild bunch already.

But this fundamental flaw aside, Lord of the Flies can still be enjoyed as a piece of stunning physical theatre.

Claire Winfield's junkyard setting is a perfectly chaotic backdrop to the increasingly bizarre behaviour of these young castaways, all played by actors in, I would guess, their early 20s.

Alexander Moschos is the tousle-haired American 'hero' Ralph, whose opposite number Jack is played with electrifying menace by Sam Donnelly. Whether it's hunting a wild animal or bullying Piggy (an excellent Owen Setter), he makes a first class psycho.

Kamran Darabi-Ford as the epileptic Simon is a figure of real sympathy, and it's a huge shock when he becomes the first victim. Ben Hale is a frightening bully boy, with Laurence Saywood a cowardly hanger-on.

As twins Sam and Eric, Sam Fordham and Jeremy Cave perform every act in unison, like a scary version of the Thompson Twins from Tintin. And lastly but not leastly, Richard Hay is a delight as the shy little boy Perceval.

If you're prepared to overlook the liberties taken with the source material (except for the cop-out ending, which remains intact), then this powerful production will leave you reeling.

* Lord of the Flies runs at the Broadway Studio Theatre until 24 October. The next production will be The Full Monty from 4 November. Tickets: 020 8690 0002.

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