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MiNDFOOD attends the Sydney premiere of ‘Lord of the Flies’

STC’s Lord of the Flies, 2019. Photo © Zan Wimberley

MiNDFOOD attends the Sydney premiere of ‘Lord of the Flies’

The highlight of the Sydney Theatre Company’s 2019 season is arguably Lord of the Flies, the story of a group of schoolboys stranded on a desert island, who – deprived of adult influence – begin to lose their civilised ways and adopt the law of the jungle, resulting in survival of the fittest.

MiNDFOOD attends the Sydney premiere of ‘Lord of the Flies’

Despite its desert island setting, director Kip Williams’ play opens with a bare set. The plane that crashes at the beginning of the play, leading to the boys’ predicament is here represented by a toy plane which one of the actors nose-dives into the ground. Neither of these devices worked especially well for me, however the play’s atmosphere and effectiveness improves in the second half when the stage is atmospherically lit by tubes that create the eeriness of night-time on the island and reflect the changing and menacing dynamics of the group.

The ‘boys’ of the play are here portrayed by actors of both sexes, including, in her stage debut, bona fide Hollywood star Mia Wasikowska, who gives a solid performance as Ralph, the group’s moral leader. Contessa Treffone as her rival, the aggressive Jack, is also convincing and entertaining.

Lord of the Flies

The cast of STC’s Lord of the Flies, 2019. Photo © Zan Wimberley

The standout however is Rahel Romahn, as the bullied, bespectacled victim, Piggy, whom Ralph tries to protect from the more aggressive contingent of the group, led by Jack. The pathos of his character is perfectly conveyed, never tipping over the edge into caricature.

All 11 cast members capture well the jerky, often uncontrolled movements of the pre-pubescent boys they are playing – as well as the immature speech patterns of children that age.

The play does contain some violence (mostly implied, but effective nonetheless) and an ending that will make you ponder its themes of gender norms; toxic masculinity; reality and fantasy; and the importance of social mores to a civilised society.

Lord of the Flies

Sydney Theatre Company

Roslyn Packer Theatre, Sydney

23 July – 24 August, 2019 

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