Kate Herbert is theatre reviewer, Herald Sun, Melbourne & formerly for Melbourne Times. Kate is a director; produced playwright (21 plays). Scripts pub. Currency Press. She worked as actor, comedian, improviser & teacher of Acting, Improvisation & Playwriting. Kate was Head of Drama/Teacher, NMIT; Coordinator of Prof. Writing/ Editing, Swinburne Uni. Read her reviews here or: www.heraldsun.com.au/entertainment/arts. NB Explorer Browser doesn't always work on blog.
Sunday, 30 June 2013
Lord of the Flies, June 29, 2013 ***1/2
Adapted from the novel by William Golding by Nigel Williams
By US-A-UM and Malthouse Theatre Malthouse, Tower Theatre, June 29 to July 14, 2013 Reviewer:
Kate Herbert on June 29
Stars:***1/3 Review also published in Herald Sun on line on Mon July 1, 2013 and later in print. KH
Photo by Sarah Walker
stranded on an isolated island with little hope of rescue, would humans
degenerate into a horde of savages with no defined power structure or
institutional law and order?
answer, according to William Golding’s startling 1954 novel, Lord of the Flies,
is a resounding Yes; well, at least it is for the prepubescent schoolboys marooned
on an island after a plane crash.
Williams’ 1995 theatrical adaptation condenses Golding’s narrative and combines
characters, recreating the intensity, danger and horror of the novel.
the intimate space of the theatre, Kip Williams’ production is confronting and
sometimes frightening as 9 young boys – played by young women – descend into
social chaos typified by barbaric rituals, warring factions, irrationality and,
of the Flies raises social, political and philosophical issues that have
stymied civilisations for millennia: good and evil, right and wrong, morality
and ethics, law and order, hierarchy and power.
Kip Williams’ concept
is inventive, setting the action in an ordered, domestic environment – a
metaphor for the civilised world from which the boys come – then systematically
and symbolically destroying the furniture to create the wild world of the
The young actors, all
recent graduates of our major acting institutions, are a committed and capable
ensemble willing to endure simulated assaults, be smeared in tomato sauce as
blood and depict vile degradation and brutality.
Fiona Pepper balances
vulnerability and strength in Ralph, the boy who is voted leader but struggles
with his own need to be popular and is corrupted by the mass hysteria.
As Ralph’s overweight sidekick
Piggy, Contessa Treffone is compelling, capturing the resoluteness of this
defenseless, myopic, asthmatic child who, despite being mercilessly bullied, pursues
his commitment to maintain order.
Eloise Winestock is a
vicious Jack, morphing into a deluded cult leader who justifies his cruelty by
arguing that his rivals are possessed by a beast, and even more menacing is Zoe
Boesen’s Roger, whose appalling brutality is shocking.
Although it is an
imaginative theatrical device, sometime the use of furniture to depict the
landscape becomes clumsy, repetitive or unclear as the cast clambers over or
under beds and chairs to create obstacles and distance.
Having women playing boys
allows a lightness of touch that is not possible with men playing boys.
However, it’s not
useful to think about the fact that girls would be unlikely to behave in the
same way as boys, as they would organise, communicate and bully in different
This production is
intensely physical, gritty and fearsome, and Golding’s narrative raises
questions about progress and evolution in the 21st century.