As a parable about the savage beneath the skin of the civilized human being, William Golding's Lord Of The Flies remains one of the more disturbing novels of the 20th century. Nigel Williams's stage adaptation, though, shaves away many of the book's nuances and places good and evil in too heavy-handed an opposition.
The production has its effective moments. There's a nice sense of playfulness and boyish fun in the first act, though the later transition to the tribes is less believable. Several performers are emotionally and dramatically convincing, especially Craig Erickson's Ralph, the figure with the most sense of order and humanity, Peter Treadwell's victimized outsider Piggy and Matthew MacFadzean's scary, dangerous Roger, second in command to the authoritarian Jack (Mike Shara).
Suspend disbelief But Shaw Festival director Neil Munro makes a mistake when he telegraphs the hellish transformation of the boys stranded on an island paradise in the first part of the tale. It's also hard to suspend disbelief when the actors gradually strip down to body suits that attempt to cover up post-teen or well-built bodies. It just doesn't work.
Cameron Porteous's three-level set is a plus, especially when combined with Kevin Lamotte's suggestive lighting. But the production fails to elicit much of the sense of horror and the primitive that the audience must feel if the show is to succeed. It's there sporadically in the final act, but Lord Of The Flies should chill us to the core, not merely provide the occasional fris
LORD OF THE FLIES, by William Golding, adapted by Nigel Williams, directed by Neil Munro, with Craig Erickson, Mike Shara, Peter Treadwell, John Cleland, Joel Hechter, Matthew MacFadzean, Duncan Stewart and Dylan Trowbridge. Presented by the Shaw Festival at the Festival Theatre, Niagara-on-the-Lake. Runs in rep to October 29. $35-$75. 1-800-511-7429. Rating: NN