BWW Review: LORD OF THE FLIES at Playhouse On The Square
LORD OF THE FLIES opened this past weekend at Playhouse on the Square, and runs through March 26. Directed by Jordan Nichols, the play is based on Nigel Williams' stage adaptation of William Golding's book of the same name. (1954). The current lively, boisterous, and entertaining show is worth a look.
The original novel (and a few subsequent films) have acquainted most of us with the basic story: a group of nice, well-educated British boys find themselves marooned on a desert isle after their plane crashes. This predicament, and their response to it, drives the action. Will they get along? Will they find some way to live harmoniously? Can they collaborate and maintain a fire to signal a passing ship? Or will these dire circumstances bring conflict and strife? In this adult-free space, will the boys end up fighting each other, bullying the weak, or worse?
Well, in LORD OF THE FLIES we don't wait long to find out. The boys give mutual respect and cooperation try, but for some reason it's just not enough fun. Headstrong "chiefs" Ralph (Stuart Rial) and Jack (Jacob Wingfield) begin as friends but end up as rivals. Piggy (Reece Berry) is the boy with glasses who the others want to pick on. (Ironically, it's Piggy's glasses that give them any hope of starting a fire.) The dreamy, troublEd Simon (Sean Moore) shares insights that the others only dimly grasp. Also, somewhere on the island, a beast lurks in the jungle. No one is sure to have seen it, but it's a threat nonetheless, and strong enough to drive a wedge between the boys who have fallen into rivalrous camps.
The other spirited cast members laugh and shout and jump and dance their way across a set that is lurid and lush, delightful and disturbing (Bryce Cutler, Scenic Designer; John Horan, Lighting Design). This energy keeps the show aloft, giving this production strong kinetic, visual qualities that are fertile ground for the exploration of darker themes. That's to its credit, though sometimes I wanted the show to drop out of high gear to savor a few profounder moments. In sum, the show works, rendering in stark detail the chaos that only seems remote from a comfortable world of rational order.