Young Centrepoint Theatre 'Lord of the Flies' cast flies
Lord of the Flies by William Golding
Adapted by Nigel Williams
Directed by Jeff Kingsford-Brown
Centrepoint Theatre, Palmerston North
July 15 - August 5, 2017
A compelling concept with a committed cast on a clever sand-covered raked traverse with multi-level staging points, combined to great effect for Lord of the Flies.
Large cast performances are not often seen at Centrepoint, and it is obvious a great deal of thought, care and attention has gone into ensuring that this show is something special.
To begin with, LOTF has been exceptionally well cast.
The story centres on a group of school children marooned on a tropical island after a plane crash during a nuclear war.
With no adult survivors, the children have to fend for themselves. Here director Jeff Kingsford-Brown has turned the original boys' English public school from the novel and its early 1990's stage adaptation, into a Kiwi co-ed.
So while that makes it a bit more gender and geographically relevant for us, the play was conceived in the pre-digital ara, and references to phones, laptops and the internet are conspicuously absent.
However, the cast, led by a handful of young professional actors, quickly make this archetypal 'brave new world' their own.
The epitome of young tearaways on the cusp of pubescence, they experience their idyllic island sanctuary descending into a place of fear, where might is right and schoolyard bullies rule.
Ella Hope Higginson has the role to relish as choir prefect Jack, who first through simple sloganeering "Kill the pig", and then by fear of the unknown, before resorting to direct dictatorial threat, moulds her choristers into a formidable squad of spear-weilding hunters.
She is aided and abetted by Nathan Mudge as Roger, her jittery, sociopathic henchman.
Facing them is Michiel Van Echten's equivocating, indecisive Ralph, Comfrey Sanders as the insightful but epileptic Simon, and Leighton Stitchbury's sensitively portrayed Piggy - excellent as the story's overweight, asthmatic, practically blind, social and moral conscience.
Behind them, the energetic young cast take their mainstage performance chance and run with it.
A reflection of our times, LOTF could be about any bunch of abandoned kids anywhere in the world - even from off the streets of Palmerston North.
Theo Wijnmsa's set is complemented by Talya Pilcher's lighting and Josh Finegan's brooding soundscape, which all help this morality tale build to its gut-churning "shoot-out" climax.