Lord of the Flies
Theatre Royal, Glasgow
It started this time last year with 170 Glasgow boys and young men getting involved in dance workshops. It ended last week with a mixed cast of two dozen amateur and professional dancers staging an impressionistic version of William Golding's dog-eat-dog classic. Directed by Matthew Bourne and produced by Re:Bourne, the education wing of his New Adventures company, this Lord of the Flies establishes a template that could be used in other cities to help reduce the age-old stigma about boys and ballet.
In the production's most audacious move, the setting is no longer Golding's desert island, but the Theatre Royal itself. With a riot going on outside, an all-male class takes refuge in the building and finds itself trapped behind the dock doors. An advance party goes on a reccy through the dress circle, the boys plunder the sweet stall and overdose on ice-cream and crisps and, as the savagery sets in, the more timid ones hide out behind the costume rails.
The great accomplishment of the production is its seamless integration of amateur and professional dancers. There's no sense of watching a community show. But what is surprising is how little Bourne exploits the young male company's potential for aggression: they start off as a nice bunch of lads, and descend not so much into violence as a vigorous athleticism.
As ever, Bourne excels at the broad brushstrokes of the story, moving a large company clearly through the stages from order to anarchy. This is at the expense of narrative and choreographic detail, providing little sense of the original's dramatic tension, but it is an impressive achievement for a first attempt.
© Mark Fisher 2011
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