William Golding’s classic tale is one of a group collapsing in on itself: this production is a group coming together in spectacular fashion.
Although produced by Matthew Bourne’s New Adventures company only eight of the 30-strong cast are professional dancers. The rest are boys aged 11 up from across East Anglia – some of whom have never danced before – brought together solely for this four-day run at the Norwich Theatre Royal.
The adaptation transfers events from a deserted island to an abandoned theatre. It’s a premise that both weakens the story – the action feels too like a play, without the isolation and unfamiliarity of being abandoned to raw nature – and heightens it: stealing Piggy’s glasses no longer has any practical purpose, now it is pure spite. But this, more than any other show, is not about the adaptation but the production – and that is unquestionably a triumph.
The ensemble are almost constantly on stage, executing large scale pieces with delightful timing and skill. As barbaric chorister Jack goads them on, there is a gang-like malevolence, encased in hoodies the pack perform Thriller-like arm and neck jerks. When Simon, mistaken for ‘the beast’, is attacked and killed there is palpable, vociferous violence in the air.
Strangely, rather than affirming mankind’s capacity for evil this production does quite the opposite: it shows our capacity to achieve things we hardly dreamed of.