BWW Review: LORD OF THE FLIES at Oklahoma City University's Burg Theatre Features an Entirely Female Cast
Jess here. I recently enjoyed an evening at Burg Theatre seeing Oklahoma City University's production of "Lord of the Flies" by William Golding. Adapted from the world renowned novel, a re-write by Nigel Williams allowed the OCU Department of Theatre to take several liberties with the script. A series of unexpected spins on this classic tale made it fresh and innovative, and gave a nod to OCU history and the media community at large.
The original "Lord of the Flies" written by Golding in 1954 centered around British school boys stranded on a deserted island after a plane crash. In contrast, OCU's version featured an all female cast of pageant queens, who, while on their way to a competition, become marooned on an uninhabited island. Whether trying to survive in the wild, or compete in the world of pageantry, the ladies soon learn that destiny can change directions, and deliver stakes much higher than anticipated.
Without revealing too many 'spoiler alerts' lets just say the old adage - only the strong shall survive, rang true throughout the play, with the fate of several girls being decided for them. Victims of the competitive nature of the group included Miss Virginia and Pegeen, both of whom were unable to participate in Act III's climactic rescue. The survivors that remained at the end were celebrated, with Miss California (Tyra Bullock) ultimately receiving a media-worthy crowning. This production displayed some of the darker facets of human nature in a new and unexpected way. It's portrayal with an entirely female cast was absolutely brilliant, and the ladies onstage did not disappoint.
The play was ensemble based and all of the actors truly delivered. Their ability to stay engaged in the tale, along with their onstage presence was impressive. Collectively, their talent in the art of storytelling, coupled with the physicality of their acting brought everything full circle. Hailey Hart (Miss Massachusetts) was an unstoppable force throughout the show. Her ability to actively listen and respond to her fellow actors made her character admirable in the eyes of the audience. Mary Morgan Bond was fierce in her role as the strong-willed Miss Texas. Her determination to obtain ultimate control provided for a perfect rivalry with Hart. Alex Speight (Pegeen) worked as the peace keeper. Her silent strength did not go unnoticed, as the audience ended up rooting for her for the majority of the show. A personal favorite was Franziska Harms (Miss Virginia). Her naivety added to the story's meaning, and her dedication to her performance made her (short-lived) character shine.
The set design by Dustin Bielich was functional and impressive. Complete with a seven-foot-tall mountain, the set gave off a playground vibe that created the ideal tone for the production, while effectively catering to the actors' blocking. The costumes by Alix Phelan were especially interesting, as the actors started off in glam pageant wear that slowly became more tattered and destroyed throughout the course of the show. The direction by Kate Brennan was outstanding. Her ability to mesh the cast while bringing out the individual characters' nuances created a tight-knit ensemble that really helped to bring this show home.
I left this play with a great admiration for all of the incredible women involved in the production. Female casting opportunities can be somewhat limited at times, and putting this on with an all-female ensemble was a genius, and truly praiseworthy move. I commend the OCU Theatre Department for taking a chance on a new interpretation of a well known classic, and for giving these remarkable ladies a chance to really shine. Each and every one of them were fantastic.
"We ain't no delinquents, we're misunderstood. Deep down inside us there is good!" -Stephen Sondheim