Date published: Mon 2 Jul 2018
Author: S. Lawson
Category: Performing Arts
What a superb production!
Stranded on a desert island following a plane crash, with no adults to tell them what to do, a group of schoolkids are left to their own devices to fend for themselves. Whitgift’s Lower School actors did incredibly well in absorbing their individual character’s nuances and mindset; the contrasting personalities quickly made apparent as the audience was immersed into their world of fractious disputes, violence, troubled relationships and war.
The boys’ impressive portrayal of raw human instincts and character development throughout the play made for fascinating viewing, as the dynamics between them all moved back and forth, mirroring the battle between their fears, desires and ultimately, fight for survival. Ralph (played by Leo Castledine) immediately faced a dilemma over what to do next, given the unfortunate predicament they found themselves in– was he trying to survive, trying to be rescued, trying to lead? Could he do all of those at once?
Given that the story raised a number of questions about society, you might be left wondering what the answers are - which character (if any) had it right? Piggy (Jon Cheshire) and his unwavering need for meetings and sticking to the rules absolutely, Ralph (Leo Castledine) with his logical plan for being rescued or Jack (Fraser Murray) whose priority was to hunt and lead; surely not Roger (Jack Godwin), who whilst happy to follow Jack, appeared to have a sadistic streak that instigated some of the more disturbing scenes, for example, the death of Simon (Kit Connor). Watching Simon’s mental and physical struggles (including an epileptic fit) was particularly poignant, and seeing the instinctive reactions of others following his death, trying to distance themselves from any culpability, was similarly powerful.
The stage provided the perfect setting for this dark tale; crafted by Whitgift’s creative production team (Mr Crook, Mr Hill and Mr Jenkinson), pushing the boundaries as far as they could with what was feasible to re-create in Big School. The sandy beach, abundance of foliage and moonlit backdrop worked perfectly with the sound and lighting to create an atmosphere of eerie unease and building tension as the performance went on.
A huge thank you goes out of course to the cast, as well as Director (Mr Pirrie), Producer (Miss Seal), Associate Director (Mr Michael), Choreographer (Mrs Carter) and the many others who contributed to such an impressive production.
On opening night, the cast were lucky enough to perform in front of the playwright himself, Nigel Williams. We are incredibly grateful for Nigel joining us and speaking with the boys after the performance, answering their questions and giving us some insight into his own interpretations of some of the play’s major themes – a real inspiration. Well done to the young actors for doing such a good job, as Nigel commented; “I really thought it was a brilliant show….you made the language come alive…..The team effect was as good as anything I’ve ever seen (in relation to this play) in the professional theatre.” What a wonderful commendation and one that is testament to the hard work of the whole Whitgift Lord of the Flies Company.
Whilst it might be many a boy’s dream to have permission to act like savages, this work is certainly not a simple story of childish ‘rough and tumble’. The dark and savage nature of humankind is explored, battling against learned (or perhaps innate) rules of civilisation and our apparent need for direction, order………and meetings!
Although scripted for a cast of boys, this tale explores more than just innocent play. As those studying it will know, this ‘beast’ of a story is layered with comments on a seemingly endless list of themes with an abundance of symbolism, posing questions that make for interesting debate: Do you have to have a vote? What makes a good rule – one that can never be broken? Is the beast us or them? Let’s finish with perhaps the most significant question examined throughout the story - is mankind fundamentally good or evil? I wonder what Piggy’s aunty would say? Probably similar to Ralph, “We need to keep a bit civilised.” Either way, “You might as well be brave about it!”
Here’s looking forward to what Whitgift Drama has in store for us all next term!