This is a decently acted production of Lord of the Flies staged by Beacon Theatre Group, an amateur company of schoolchildren. It would have been perfectly fine, were the young actors capable of projecting properly. They weren’t. This was due partly to the cast and partly to the venue. In a well insulated 50-capacity studio somewhere they might have got away with it, but in the cavernous vaults of Paradise in Augustine's, the awkward stage-shy mumblings of half the cast dissolved before they reached the punters. This often ruined what would otherwise have been very good performances. A well-cast Simon added real pathos and depth to the play, but poor blocking and quiet delivery meant that many of his lines were lost. There were notable exceptions; Piggy and Ralph were both generally audible, and Jack Merridew was consistently loud and clear though his delivery could have used more variety – it would have been nice to see a hint of vulnerability beneath the blustering villain. Piggy was a real stand-out, offering an engaging and distinctive reading of the role. His confident cockney charm and striking physicality made him a far more watchable performer than the other less charismatic Piggys I have seen elsewhere.
There were a few interesting directorial touches, particularly in the show’s use of music; blues slide-guitar provided incidental backing in key scenes, and there were a couple of memorable sung interludes. But setting these aside, the direction is frequently poor. One slightly distasteful moment when a boy adopts a “native” accent to speak to Merridew, calling him his “massa”, was made completely nonsensical by the young actor’s delivery; he spoke the lines in the same English accent he had used throughout the play. This turned Merridew’s reply – ‘why are you putting on that accent?’ – into a bizarre non-sequitur. A good director should have spotted this and pointed it out to the cast. Small problems like this abound throughout the show. In other circumstances, this cast could have managed a rather good production of ‘Lord of the Flies’, but this year’s effort cannot be considered a success.