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Matthew Bourne's Lord of the Flies - UK Tour Review

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by Alison Brinkworth (subscribe)
Freelance journalist in Birmingham with a passion for the dynamic theatre, art, food and fashion scene in Britain's 'Second City'.
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Clever and Captivating Modern Dance Adaptation
If, like me, you had to read Lord of the Flies at school, it's a text you will probably remember for the brutality, bullying and torment of schoolboys who quickly turn into savages when stranded on a deserted island.

The classic William Golding novel has now been given the Matthew Bourne dance makeover through his touring company New Adventures - and although it is wordless and depicted only through expressive dance, it still speaks volumes.

Lord1
An exciting and clever new dance adaptation of Lord of the Flies by New Adventures


The show is on a UK tour, which stopped off at Birmingham Hippodrome as part of International Dance Festival Birmingham 2014 (IDFB) in May. It continues to cities including Canterbury, Liverpool, Bradford and London.

The show opens on a practically bare stage with scaffolding and ramps to one side and a metal roller shutter that the uniformed schoolboys march through.

Instead of an island, they end up becoming trapped in this eerie warehouse as the roller shuts and the bangs of frustration of their little fists against the corrugated metal fall on deaf ears.

Immediately grabbing their mobile phones, the dark stage is full of glowing lights that get no signal - it's just one of the quirky, thoughtful details that make this modern re-working so cleverly adapted and compelling.

It's not just all down to Matthew Bourne - the modern day saint of contemporary dance - either. He co-directs this with Olivier Award-nominee Scott Ambler, who is also responsible for the choreography.

Intelligently, we see a gradual shift from normal children having food fights and tears at bedtime to gangs who hunt pigs, and eventually their peers.

Adding another special touch to this production is that the core adult dancers are joined by 22 young men and boys (as young as 11) from the local area that the show is being performed in.

The chosen boys went through a rigorous audition process and it shows as the performances on stage are tremendous considering how tender many of them are in years. It adds a special element having youngsters on stage, especially a very small child who constantly cradles his teddy bear.

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Matthew Bourne directed Lord of the Flies


They don't even look too out of place alongside the New Adventures' professionals, who are exceptional dancers. Layton Williams as tragic Simon is especially good and fluid with his movements. He seems to be able to make his body defy gravity.

It's a strong cast and even the dancer playing Piggy (Sam Plant), who I thought was mainly there to strut and be bullied, had his own solo moment when he showed real grace.

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The torment from the book have been perfectly transposed on to stage


This production has been supported by Arts Council England, the Arts Council of Wales, along with other major trusts and donors, and I am thankful that it was, as without that funding, it may never have been created.

It is something that both adults and children will be compelled by from start to finish, particular with the jarring soundtrack of drums and cello strings.

What affected me most after reading Lord of the Flies was the cruelty of how children can treat each other. This production has not lost any of that raw emotion that is so central to the plot.

It manages to be just as shocking, upsetting and provocative. It's a wonderful thing to see.

Score: 8/10

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The young talented cast starring at Birmingham Hippodrome



Lord of the Flies

UK Tour tickets cost from 15 and are available from the New Adventures website.

BIRMINGHAM | HIPPODROME
May 14 - 17. Box Office: 0844 338 5000

INVERNESS | EDEN COURT
May 28 - 31. Box Office: 01463 234 234

GLASGOW | THEATRE ROYAL
Jun 11 - 14. Box Office: 0844 871 7647

ABERDEEN | HIS MAJESTY'S THEATRE
August 27 - 30. Box Office: 0845 270 8200

LIVERPOOL | EMPIRE
September 10 - 13. Box Office: 0844 871 3017

CANTERBURY | MARLOWE THEATRE
September 24 - 27. Box Office: 01227 787787

LONDON | SADLER'S WELLS
October 8 - 11. Box Office: 0844 412 4300

NEWCASTLE | THEATRE ROYAL
November 5 - 8. Box Office: 08448 11 21 21

BRADFORD | ALHAMBRA
December 3 - 6. Box Office: 01274 432000

Permanent Cast List:

Alastair Postlethwaite
Daniel Wright
Danny Reubens
Dominic North
Jack Hazelton
Layton Williams
Leon Moran
Luke Murphy
Sam Archer
Sam Plant

Birmingham Youth Cast List
William Cornish, 18, from Solihull
Khalid Daley, 17, from Birmingham
Jacob Goodchild, 17, from Telford
Brad Guest, 17, from Wolverhampton
Dereece Leigh-Gayle, 17, from Halesowen
Declan Lewis, 16, from Dudley
Harry Ondrak-Wright, 16, from Wolverhampton
Callum Osbourne, 18, from Wolverhampton
Zach Parkin, 16, from Tamworth
Ben Powney,17, from Solihull
Hugo von Fragstein, 20, from Stratford-Upon-Avon
Louis Williams, 17, from Leegomery
Christopher Wilson, 17, from Hockley
Tom Hammond, 10, from Tamworth
Ethan Daly, 13, from Tamworth
Jack Dolaghan, 11, from Birmingham
Joel Fassard-Jones, 12, from Leicester
Fenton Lockley, 11, from Birmingham
Enrique Ngbokota, 11, from Elmhurst School in Birmingham
Harvey Powell, 12, from Coventry
Nat Sweeny, 11, from Moseley
Alexander Joe Townsend Love, 13, from Leicester.
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Why? fantastic dance adaptation of classic book
When: until December
Phone: various venues- see tour dates
Where: UK Tour - Birmingham, London, Liverpool
Cost: from 15
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