Thursday, March 22, 2007

Stage right wrong

As first visits to one of the jewels in Wales' cultural crown go, it wasn't particularly auspicious.

Admittedly, the student production of 'Lord Of The Flies' we saw at the Wales Millennium Centre recently didn't take place in the main auditorium, the enormous Donald Gordon Theatre, but in the Weston Studio, "more intimate" according to the website but, with a 250 person capacity, still sizeable.

I found William Golding's novel both engrossing and unsettling when I read it at school years ago (pre-GCSEs, I think), but, as an allegory and expose of the innate bloodlust and potential murderer within us all, it seemed much less subtle on stage - the fault of the production, perhaps, though equally it could be the result of looking at it with older, wiser eyes.

The standard of acting wasn't bad, but whereas Peter Brook's 1963 film featured a cast of children, on this occasion the childishness of the characters had to be conveyed in the delivery of the lines - and that soon began to grate. Furthermore, there was no real sense of the decision to cast all the children as female as being anything more than a briefly attention-grabbing gimmick, and the moderately farcical touches incorporated throughout the performance sat uneasily with the choice of a bleak ending.

In fairness, though, had I seen the production at the Sherman Theatre, affiliated to the university, I (and others around us in the audience) would have been less inclined to be critical - the venue and context didn't do it many favours.

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