Freddie Watkins, Jack in the touring production of Lord of the Flies, admits William Golding’s is an unremittingly-grim view of humanity.
Golding’s celebrated tale is of the savagery which descends when a group of children are stranded on a desert island. The schoolboys survive a plane crash, but what starts as a classic desert-island adventure quickly descends into a struggle for survival in a darkly -sinister world of superstition and immorality.
After success at London’s Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre, the show now hits the road on tour, taking in Southampton’s Mayflower Theatre from September 29-October 3.
“You’ve just got to do it very creatively,” says Freddie. “It’s a very psychological book, a very internal book and quite difficult to transfer to the stage, but there is a very spectacular element to it alongside all the internal stuff. There is a lot that is very graphic. Aesthetically it is perfect for the stage. Really the main problem is condensing all the characters down into the two hours.”
That and the fact it’s all decidedly grim.
“I think the writer is thoroughly angsty to do with the human race and this very natural descent into savagery! Usually you do see a glimmer of hope in stories like this, but there isn’t here. Really there is no hope whatsoever! We spent a lot of time working on the ending. The director just wanted it to be bleak. It really is an extremely-grim book.
“And I don’t think the fact it was written in the 50s negates the darkness or the gravity of the standpoint. There is something very timeless to do with savagery especially when it is children that have not really learnt the rules and are perhaps closer to it anyway.”
Freddie is playing Jack, whom he describes as the classic bully, and the danger is that in these particular circumstances he is a bully given very free rein to do whatever he wants: “He has been bullied. He is a bully. He is part of the cycle of bullying. He understands the world through being competitive. He wants to be the best. He wants to be the leader.”
In the circumstances he finds himself, he is free to become dangerous: “You think of it and you don’t really want to blame the characters. He is just a messed-up kid. In real life, if he wasn’t on the island, he would wake up and deal with his issues, but the setting allows him to run wild.”
Are these characters and this story difficult to live with?
“We have to do a lot of therapeutic activity to keep our distance! In terms of dealing with it physically and emotionally, you have to deal with this window it gives you onto this primality… but I do get a kind of sick wonder out of it!”
Freddie’s screen credits have included two films which depict a large group of children in a rather different way: Nativity and Nativity 2: Danger in the Manger!
“My character was a posh snotty arrogant kid. This is definitely the extended universe! I feel my Nativity character could definitely go onto this island and wreak havoc, but definitely Nativity is a world which allows for a lot more faith and goodness.
“I loved Nativity. Debbie Isitt (director/producer) comes along and has got a wonderful way of getting children together that seems so natural. The atmosphere is so great. It is just like you are hanging out with friends…”
Rather different then to Lord of the Flies!
Tickets for Southampton on 023 8071 1811.
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