Lord of the Flies by William Golding is one of the most famous dystopian novels, but I consider it to be one of the most famous young adult novels before that genre even existed, you can read about the history of the genre HERE in one of our commentaries. As someone who has enjoyed reading the novel as both a young adult and as an adult, I was excited for the opportunity to see it performed as a play at the Carlsbad New Village Arts with the adaptation written by Nigel Williams. After being let down by the 1990 and 1963 film adaptations, this performance was unexpected.
The story follows a group of boys who were on a plane from Britain escaping a war when they are shot down and stranded on a deserted island inhabited by wild pigs. On the island they encounter social power struggles, a wild beast and losing their own humanity. What starts out as a fun time without adults, results in a massive war amongst the boys. In this
production, directed by Justin Lang, the boys are not British but are instead American and takes place during the present time.The novel describes war sounds in the background of life on the island, however in the play production, it’s easy to forget that there is a war present outside of lives of the young boys. The novel touches on the importance of social class and how it is present even on the island, but it wasn’t very present in this production.
During the production, the rivalry between the characters Ralph (Jonah Gercke) and Jack (David Coffey) is captured profoundly. The actors depicted the aggression without being too dramatic. Their performance stood out amongst the rest of the cast. The character of Piggy (Ben Ellerbrock), who is my personal favorite in the novel, was slightly disappointing. He wasn’t as fat and awkward as portrayed in the book and didn’t have a stutter or obvious distinction that he was from a lower class and less educated background.
On a brighter note, the production captured the intensity and suspense the novel also created with the help from set design and lighting made possible by Kelly Kissinger and Chris Renda, respectively. The island set created by Kissinger emphasizes the haunting and secluded feeling the island gives the castaways. Even though she was working with a small
stage, it was very impressive. Renda on the other hand, used lighting to his advantage by spotlighting and dimming during intense moments. Together, Renda and Kissinger created an unforgettable stage experience.
The production followed the work of Golding as best as it could but in the end lost the overall message of the work; that the beast is inside us, not a pig head. Although it is prevalent that the boys lose their sense of humanity, the end feels too rushed and unresolved. Perhaps Lang should have gone with a younger cast because the actors were from ages 11-18, while in the novel they were of the elementary school age.
Overall, the play was entertaining and suspenseful at times. Those who are familiar with the novel probably won’t walk away feeling impressed but amused. It was a new take on Lord of the Flies never seen before, but it lacks the depth and social issues present in the novel. If you’re interested in a new view on Lord of the Flies, this is the play for you!