McLean students score with memorable ‘Lord of the Flies’

Syd Kirk, Kristen Waagner, Bryn Kirk perform in McLean High School’s production of “Lord of the Flies.” (Photo by Erica Bass)

At McLean High School’s “Lord of the Flies,” more than just planes flew through the air.

The palpable tension that filled the stage, coupled with the intensely dark, heartbreaking story, created a powerful effect that left a lasting mark on its stunned audience.

The play, originally adapted from William Golding’s 1954 novel of the same name, was made for the stage by Nigel Williams in 1995. It tells the story of a group of adolescent boys whose plane crashes on an island, and how a struggle for power splits them into factions, one of which wants to survive, the other wanting to play.

Eventually, their struggle turns bloody, with worship of a mysterious “beast” and the eventual reverting of many of the boys to a primal state.

The entirety of the all-female ensemble gave a wonderful performance, remaining engaged, reactive and in character for the entire duration of the play.

Jack (Kristen Waagner) excellently conveys the degradation from a classy, uptight choirboy who must be in charge to a savage, brutal leader who naturally commands authority, while Piggy (Jordan Prather) expertly portrayed the manic hopelessness that many of the boys felt when trapped on the island. Piggy’s need for order is overshadowed by the wildness of Jack and his hunters, and Prather embodied this very well.

Several more outstanding performances came from Sam and Eric (Lauren Grobman and Amanda Flores, respectively) and Simon (Ruby Larimer). Sam and Eric, the twins, created comedy at their own expense, even amid their fear, and Grobman and Flores played off of each other nicely, with great timing.

Simon, the small but wise boy who tries to warn the others of their own downfall, is captured by Larimer, whose erratic, panicky movements and careful delivery encapsulated these traits.

While the cast provided the emotion, they were helped immensely by the crew, who created an incredible atmosphere all around the theater.

The set (Piper Phillips, Alicia Dziedzic, Rebecca Blacksten, Max Engel) was complicated and intricate, with many levels of raised platforms, forest-like branches and leaves, many different points of entrance and exit, including a “cliff” that actors could fall from, and, to top it all off, thousands of pounds of real sand laid on the floor of the stage, to complete the feeling of a deserted island.

Not only did the set exude professionalism, but the costumes (Shea Killoran, Marguerite Godwin, Katherine Kelly), hair, and makeup (McLean Hair Crew, Cassi Creason, Gabbi Norton) were intricately planned and executed, and worked extraordinarily well.

As the show progressed, each became rattier and grosser to reflect the boys’ time on the island, and their hair became wild and strewn with leaves. The makeup reflected their wounds, such as bruises and cuts, as well as the war paint they made with the pig’s blood, both of which were executed with amazing attention to detail.

“Lord of the Flies” was an excellent show, which robbed the audience of both their breath and their hearts. The terrifying story of what mankind can become leaves a harrowing reminder of our baser instincts, and McLean High’s portrayal of the show leaves nothing to the imagination.

The horridness of the boys’ actions sears itself into the memory of the audience, and creates a lasting lesson for all who see it.

The Sun Gazette partners with the Critics and Awards Program (CAPPIES) to present student-written reviews of local high school theater productions.

For more on the initiative, see the Web site at www.cappies.com/nca/.

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