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Lord of the Flies

August 4, 2012
by

Event: William Golding’s ‘Lord of the Flies’ by SRT’s The Young Co.
Venue: DBS Arts Centre
Run: 25-28 Jul 2012
Adapted for the stage by Nigel Williams
Directed by Daniel Jenkins

Cast: Ethan Chia (Ralph), Andrew Marko (Piggy), Bright Ong (Jack), Bjorn Lee Varella (Simon), Leroy Yap (Sam), Gavin Low (Eric), Sean Lai (Maurice), Gurmit Singh (Bill), Rick Chan (Roger), Soh Wee Pin (Perceval)

I have never gotten down to reading William Golding’s Lord of the Flies, but I have no doubt that it is a text that provides the perfect base for examining the human condition.

What first greeted us was the smell of what I believe were manila rope hanging on stage (and was it kerosene?) and the set of what looked like the wreckage of a plane, which was eventually used as the shelter and hill top in the play. Didn’t quite enjoy the smell which was quite overpowering, but I guess it helped in giving the sense that we were somehow in the wilderness together with the boys and a reminder of the plane crash. I thought the sets were given much thought and effort and served the show well. What I felt was rather good were parts of the sound design like the intro, where a plane crash was simulated. The theatre literally shook with the vibrations of the crash sound sequence. The surround effects were great. The thunders were also pretty convincing.  These thanks to Jeffrey Yue.

And so, we go into the production proper. Set originally during the Second World War in the novel in light of the atomic bomb, I didn’t realise that this production wasn’t so, until I read the director’s note after the show. Here, it was meant to be set in a contemporary context as the War of Terror, where young people today wonder if there’ll be a world for them to grow up into. In any case, that sense of uncertainty and fear of the future wasn’t that much explored and was probably not the focus of play, which was more of surviving the now. And indeed, who would survive, and in the face of seclusion and dire state, would the boys turn savage? Well, a few of them did, while the rest tried to keep to their civilised roots, but were in the end hunted down, till help finally came.

The initial progress of the play was ok, with the introduction of the characters and their personalities. You had the irritating smart aleck in Piggy who just goes on and on that he’s right; the diplomatic Ralph who was a natural leader, though wavers under peer pressure; the domineering yet insecure Jack, who always wants to be in control but is threatened by Ralph’s presence; the sadistic Roger who instigates and loves blood spilling; the innocent and sensitive Simon, and others. However, the show somehow began to feel a little draggy as it progressed, and being at what was eventually a 90-minute show, it wasn’t a good sign. I think one main reason was the pace of development of the story and characters.

I believe the characters were meant to represent different natures or ideals of the human race, but I felt it was not pursued by each actor deep enough.  There were moments when I could hardly make out what Simon was saying. I wouldn’t say it was easy given the short time for character development within the show and the relatively young cast but it would have been more engaging if we could see that brought out, especially for the main characters, so that there would be a clearer distinction between their natures and their character development in the face of being stranded and pitched against each other for survival. The turning point of the show would be when Simon was murdered, and that would have been a good point to pick up the pace to reveal the boys’ true nature. However, things became blurred and messy and more rant-like, and at some point, felt like it was going round in circles at some point.
Although it finally reached the climax at the end when Ralph was almost killed, the repetitive “it’s a game right” ending lines might have been done too many times and I felt it could have been more impactful with a stronger tone and more distinct reaction from the characters, with a definitive stop. Wasn’t it supposed to be disappointment and “shock” on the part of the rescuer, that the boys had degenerated into such an uncivilised state?

Well, I believe that with some tweaks, the production would take greater heights and that a couple of the actors displayed latent potential to go farther in their acting career.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. August 4, 2012 8:25 pm

    Hi, Ilkosa,

    In this review, I like your second paragraph the best!

    You have described it well on how the stage looked like, the smell and the sound.

    I can see, smell and hear from what I read. Not easy! 😉

    P.S 我有同感,I didn’t like the smell too. Xp

    • Ilkosa permalink
      August 4, 2012 10:09 pm

      Thanks ST. I’ve been wondering if it was intended or just that they didn’t have time to air the props.

      • August 4, 2012 10:41 pm

        Haha, maybe we can ask them. 😉

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