Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

October 10, 2012

Lord of the Flies

Barrington Stage, Pittsfield, MA
through October 21, 2012
by Jennifer Curran

Somewhere between the drum beats, the savagery and the lost innocence lives a world of desperation and the desire to hold onto what is precious. William Golding's classic and controversial "Lord of the Flies" has been daringly adapted by Nigel Williams and brought to life with a raging and brutal blast at Barrington Stage.

As in the novel, a plane that was to deliver a group of British schoolboys to safety away from the war (likely WWII) ravaging Great Britain crashes into a deserted island.  What at first seems like a vacation in the land of plenty to the survivors quickly turns as the boys split into factions of savagery versus civility. As the boys' fears grow, they become certain that somewhere in the heart of the forest lives a beast ready to devour each of them.

In a unified vision, the direction (Giovanna Sardelli), lights (Scott Pinkney), scenic design (David M. Barber), sound and haunting music (both by Anthony Mattana), Barrington Stage has brought to New England something far beyond expectation. In a bold and brave production, audiences watch as young boys slowly and violently beat back the beast, spill the blood and kill the pig.

John Evans Reese as Jack Merridew delivers the sort of antagonist you love and hate at the same time. Pitted against Jack is Ralph (Richard Dent); the reluctant leader who questions his ability and desire to lead. Dent's ability to take us from an innocent boyish romp on a lost beach to murderous stomps and then utter desolation is a performance audience members will likely not forget. As Jack and Ralph take sides, there in the midst of it all is the sacrificial lamb, Piggy (Matthew Minor). Minor's Piggy is endearing and thoroughly engaging. It is Simon (Chris Dwan), however, in a moment of prophetic truth that is able to see who they have become and the treacherous path they follow. "Maybe there isn't a beast. Maybe it's only us."