Sandra Carter reviews Lord of the Flies at the Wycombe Swan. 

Why did I put myself through this? I knew it was going to be depressing, I mused as this play began and lovely young schoolboys started turning feral. But of course, if the ancient Greeks were right, it’s good to have the catharsis of watching tragedy – and this famous story is certainly tragic in parts.

 But what a brilliant portrayal of William Golding’s fascinating tale of boys stranded on a desert island after a plane crash. The scene that greets you as you enter the theatre is astonishingly effective. A torn-off half of a full size plane lies wrecked on a sloping stage, one large wing lying askew to be used as walkway into the forest behind. A clever feature is the beach in front, which protrudes off the stage into the auditorium, scattered with shells and debris. Even before the play begins, you feel part of the awful scene.

 Then in walk the dazed boys, reacting in different ways according to their characters. Among an excellent cast the leads are impressive: Luke Ward-Wilkinson as Ralph, the voice of conscience and reason; Connor Brabyn as Jack, everyone’s nightmare of a self-promoting bully; and Anthony Roberts as Piggy, picked on by all but Ralph for his size and willingness to think differently – and more wisely.

 Beaconsfield’s little star actor Benedict Barker played his part beautifully, and won all hearts. The other actors are perhaps rather mature for their parts, but young Benedict is all cute innocence.

 This fine touring production ensures plenty of action on a static stage. When two groups of boys are in different parts of the island, one group freezes while the other acts, with a high platform providing the mountain-top settings.

 The Swan was packed with school parties on Tuesday’s opening night, and no doubt will be throughout the week. There will certainly be plenty of scope for discussion in the next day’s English class. What is it all about? – the old battle of good v evil, the descent of civilisation, Freudian id and ego, the need for school rules? If you can’t get to class, read the show programme, where Prof Tanya Byron delves into all the theories and provides her own.

Lord of the Flies continues at Wycombe Swan until Saturday November 21. Visit for more information and tickets.