REVIEW: Lord of the Flies, Theatre Royal, Newcastle, Until March 12

In a desperate situation, a group of schoolboys turn on each other in this gripping and exciting play.

Freddie Wakins as Jack and Luke Ward-Wilkinson as Ralph in Lord of the Flies.
Freddie Wakins as Jack and Luke Ward-Wilkinson as Ralph in Lord of the Flies.

Nigel Williams’ stage adaptation of William Golding’s famous novel Lord of the Flies is simply unmissable.

The young cast take on their demanding roles with absolute conviction in a show that keeps you balanced on the edge of your seat.

After their plane crashes on a deserted island, a group of schoolboys are left to fend for themselves.

They take it lightly at first, jumping around the beach and having fun but things soon turn sinister and they become savage.

Before the play even begins, the audience has a real feast for the eyes in the staging.

The orchestra pit is replaced with the sloping edge of a beach where clothing and suitcases are scattered, having fallen free from the plane, which too has crashed at the side of the stage.

Freddie Watkins as Jack in Lord of the Flies.

Ralph (Luke Ward-Wilkinson) and Piggy (Anthony Roberts) are first to find their way to the beach, but when Jack (Freddie Watkins) and the rest of his choir boy crew turn up, heads clash.

Jack and Ralph both believe they should be leader, and when Ralph wins the votes of his island peers, Jack doesn’t take it well.

Each of the boys gave real stand-out performances as the rivals, whose dislike for each other leads them into battle.

Ralph just wants to start a fire in the hope that a passing ship will rescue them, while Jack is hell bent on hunting pigs to eat.

Freddie Watkins as Jack in Lord of the Flies.

Roberts is instantly-lovable as Piggy, quoting his auntie and trying to keep everyone calm while being targeted by the bullies of the group.

A special mention should go to young David Evans too. He takes on the role of Perceval wonderfully. He’s the youngest cast member but stands strongly amongst the others.

Matthew Castle is also brilliant as Roger. He’s almost consumed by the menacing role – he had me quaking in my boots.

The direction cleverly turns the same space into different parts of the island, with slow-motion acting, freezing and lighting used to allow the separate groups of boys to be inches from each other, yet doing their own thing at opposite ends of the island.

It’s an absolutely breathtaking production that is performed to perfection by the eager young cast.

The story is a real test of humanity for the boys and causes the audience to question how they’d handle such a situation themselves.

There’s murder, mayhem and drama. I’ve never seen such a dynamic and talented young cast.

Lord of the Flies runs at the Theatre Royal until Saturday, March 12. Click here to book tickets.