Review: EUTCo’s ‘Lord of the Flies’ @ Exeter Northcott

**spoilers included**

EUTCO’s production of William Golding’s haunting modern classic stormed onto the stage of Northcott theatre this Wednesday night. The excitement surrounding the build-up to this launch left me dying to see India Howland and Will Pinhey’s theatrical take on Lord of the Flies. They did not disappoint…from their brilliantly choreographed violence to the cast’s impressive acting, this play pulled off a thrilling performance that had the audience constantly hovering on the edge of their seats. The most obvious major alteration of the character genders brought a welcome change, giving a new dynamic to the relation between characters. The provocative power struggle between Rachel and Jack constructs a terrifying representation of human politics as these opposing figures mimic the battle between the genders and political stances. As their fragile order spirals into chaos, the children are left terrified, and we discover how fear can be used to manipulate and corrupt.


Emma Barry’s brilliant performance of Rachel accurately captured the inwardly conflicted nature of the character as she struggles to gain leadership in a crumbling social structure. Although initially I thought her mannerisms were slightly over-exaggerated at times, Barry soon fitted herself to the role well, displaying Rachel’s relentless over-optimism amidst her anarchic environment. I also must congratulate Samuel Nicholls, who played the role of Jack, for his impressive enactment of this dominant figure. Although you may at first dismiss this character as cocky but harmless, he takes on an increasingly menacing disposition which produces fear in both his fellow islanders and the audience. As Nicholls sauntered across the stage whilst shouting assertions of his authority, he managed to convey the stubborn yet manipulative nature of Jack with precision. This acting standard was met by a majority of the cast, from the childish cowering of Lila Boschiet and Jemima Beauchamp to the brutishness of Charlie Howard and Annabel Wilde.


Although Harvey Wright’s portrayal of Piggy had some merit, such as his consistent accent and deliverance of Piggy’s stubborn and cowardly character, his enactment of Piggy’s death let down his performance. His over-exaggerated, violent shaking before he fell down the cliff made what was supposed to be a shocking murder comical. Additionally, it was a shame that Simon’s character was reduced considerably in this interpretation of Golding’s novel as his maddened psyche is a key aspect of it. Although I understand the necessity for cutting sections due to time limitations, I thought some of the violent scenes could be slightly shortened to allow for more time to display the complexity of Simon’s mental struggle. The lack of insight into his psychology impacted on Patrick Swain’s performance, making his disjointed language and physical symptoms appear awkward and often unexplained.


Nevertheless, these drawbacks were made up for by the production team’s exquisite attention to detail when constructing the set. It must have been a difficult task to create the expansive landscape of the secluded island in such a constricted space. They captured this dangerous world with overhanging dark nets and forestry scattered across the stage. As the action progressed, chalked graffiti expanded over the whole set, conveying man’s increasing corruption of the natural world. The creative addition of the hanging figure in the background creates a luring presence of the death of humanity to reveal their inner beastliness. Furthermore, there was excellent costume design by Nat Chan, Julia Vredenberg, and Bess Yeager, particularly in the second half where the aggressive gang’s clothes resonate their violent behaviour. Finally, a special mention must be rewarded to the composer, Hum Chandna and sound designer, Amy Mellows. Loud music vibrated through the audience during the action scenes which then fizzled into chilling white noise. These brilliant sound effects produced an additional layer of frightening eeriness to the action.


Overwhelmingly intense, yet absolutely thrilling, EUTCO’s fantastic production of Lord of the Flies is unmissable. So, I would recommend you grab your tickets for the next three nights before it sells out! You will discover how their performance captures the corruption of nature and explores the fine division between man and beast…

Jess White 


‘Lord of The Flies’ continues to be performed at Exeter Northcott until Saturday 19th January 


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