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Matthew Bourne's Lord Of The Flies

05 April 2014 - 11:50 AM

No idea where to place this as it's neither a musical nor a play.

Anyway, I saw it last night and loved it. Here's my review:

Half my lifetime ago, I studied William Golding's Lord of the Flies for GCSE. It's a great book, but when you analyse the hell out of it and are forced to write countless essays on what Piggy's glasses represent, it loses something! Last year, I had the pleasure of watching Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake.  On the strength of that, I booked for his version of Lord of the Flies. Last night, I watched the show and it comes pretty close to equalling, if not overtaking, Swan Lake's greatness.

The set is a cavernous space filled with platforms, oil drums and wicker baskets. Lighting effects, strobe effects (when the action turns slow-motion) and sound complete the scene effectively. So, how is the story told when no words are used? It's a daunting task, but Bourne pulls it off effectively, so that after 15 years or so, memories of the novel came flooding back.

The first scene depicts rows and rows of boys marching onto the set in choreography that is military. As they become used to the 'island', all sense of order slips and the dance movements become more chaotic, more playful, although no less beautiful. Eventually, the set is a dark gloom of animalistic boys, chanting, beating sticks and charging menacingly at those still trying to cling onto civilisation. In this way, through dance, the story arc is wonderfully portrayed.

The staging is often ingenious, the conch shell of the novel replaced by an oil drum which, when pounded by Ralph, initially commands order but ultimately becomes ignored. Rails of clothes become the island's foliage and the boys charge in and out of them trying to escape from each other. Even a stage light has a starring role in a stunning scene which I will not spoil here.

Afterwards, the Lowry audience were treated to a Q&A session with Matthew Bourne himself and several cast members. We learnt that the ensemble (comprised of local school boys) took mere weeks to learn the entire show! There was an interesting discussion about whether the younger cast members understood the text of the novel - they felt that while rehearsing, the behaviour of the boys in the novel felt natural to them, which is understandable and perhaps a little shocking. Golding had growing boys' behaviour spot on in that respect. Finally, we ascertained that Bourne would not be replacing Bruce Forsyth as the presenter of Strictly! An amusing end to a stimulating and thrillingly energetic and moving evening.