William Golding’s “Lord of the Flies” is a startling exploration of what happens when the visages of civilized society are eroded and humanity devolves into the crude and brutal.
Nigel Williams' adaptation of Golding’s novel is mounted on the Howell Theatre stage by the Nebraska Repertory Theatre in its final production of its season. And while there is some drama there, the Rep’s effort needs to be measured sparingly in its success.
The play follows a group of boys who survive a plane crash and find themselves on a deserted island. As they endeavor to organize and hope for rescue, they slowly dissolve the facade of civilization and find themselves propelled into a battle of savagery and destruction.
The boys divide into two camps, one led by a somewhat reluctant Ralph (Bradley Tejeda), the other by the aggressive authoritarian Jack (Harrison Bryan). Confronted by a mysterious island beast, the boys disagree on how to handle the situation, falling into fragmentation, with only Simon (Tyler Meredith) realizing the beast is really inside each of the boys, leading to their internal moral disintegration.
Generally, little complaint can be made about the play’s cast in its character development. Nor can any negative be interjected on the play’s technical side — lighting, set design, sound and percussion are all positive and important pieces of the complete work.
The problem initially lies as a universal cast issue of line projection. Mere volume is not projection and by increasing amplitude the words are still incomprehensible.
But the projection issue grows out of a general lack of control of speech and body actions by many in the cast. The savagery and feral degeneration the cast attempts to convey still must be controlled savagery and degeneration. Otherwise, it is simply agitated thrashing and flailing with whatever dramatic tension that is built often completely defused by such actions.
That being said, the play’s second act is a much better presented effort by the cast.
For the most consistent performances, look to Colton Storm’s Piggy, Meredith’s Simon and Tejeda’s Ralph. Bryan’s second act Jack is immensely superior to his teetering and erratic first-act effort.
The Rep’s “Lord of the Flies” has some positive elements, but until the cast masters some self control and projection problems, it will make for a sporadic evening.