“Kill the Beast, Spill Its Blood” – FLHS Drama Club Performs “Lord of the Flies”


Harper Treschuk

Chief Naval Officer Hatzis puts an end to the chaos on the island.

Harper Treschuk, Editor-in-Chief

On November 19-21, 2021, the FLHS Drama Club performed an adaptation of Lord of the Flies. Set in three acts, the play tells the story of a group of boys stranded on an island while a world war is raging, and how their strategies to survive and organize a democratic society go awry. Given the smaller scope of characters, the play was double cast, with the “Hunters” and “Gatherers” each performing two shows over the weekend and offering different lenses on society, chaos, and disintegration. I had the opportunity to view the “Hunters” cast on closing night and interviewed members of the Ludlowe community who attended the other show.

As the Drama Club’s first opportunity to venture back into the auditorium since November 2019, the production made effective use of space. Spilling out from the stage, which was graced with set elements including various trees, the plane crash that brought them to the island, and a balconied cliff, the actors raced down the rows. The island did not seem enclosed but expansive. The eerie green, blue, and red lighting reflected the tensions that soon emerged. Moments of frenzy and foreboding were punctuated with rhythmic drum music. 

The costume choices also highlighted the artistic interpretation of the production. Originating as a crowd of neatly-dressed British school boys, with matching ties and collared shirts, the costumes slowly disintegrated. Ralph, the protagonist, emerged wearing his shirt unbuttoned in the second act and by Act 3, his tie was wrapped around his head like a bandanna. As their society and amity devolved, other characters began to wear their tie in unique ways and become more disheveled.

“Kill the pig, spill its blood,” became the passionate refrain that united the hunters and linked the storyline. As a cluster of the boys decide to go off and hunt with Jack, an impulsive and threatening leader, rather than maintaining the fire with Ralph (in the hopes that a passing ship would see the flame and rescue them), the symbolic and allegorical themes of Lord of the Flies emerged. Each of the principal characters, Ralph, Jack, Piggy, Simon, and Roger, illustrated a different angle of human nature, from rationality to tribalism to perceptiveness to spirituality to heartless cruelty. The choices with which the boys are confronted—to hold democratic assemblies or make unilateral decisions, to prioritize the long-term reward of stoking the fire or the short time-reward of hunting pigs, to remain together or to fracture along lines of resentment and retaliation—are more pronounced than the day-to-day decisions we face, but they illuminate essential questions. To William Golding, the author of Lord of the Flies, the corruption of the boy’s innocence and their disintegration into chaos illustrated his pessimistic view of human nature. Perhaps, however, redemption exists if we can only listen to the right people, those who advocate for “what’s right” over expediency.

The beast—an elusive and ultimately imagined fear that the boys hold—took shape for me as today’s political red herrings. Mistaking a pilot’s corpse in a tree for a “beast,” the hunters race into a misdirected spree to kill the beast, and use it as license to slaughter one of their own people, because the “beast lives inside him.” The use of props such as fires and a pig’s head on a stick, as well as a lot of fake blood, helped to bring these harrowing moments alive.

Lord of the Flies conveys the power of the macro setting, the broader environment and social conditions that interact with the more specific setting of the deserted island. The children were sent on the plane to be evacuated from bombs, as the world around them has descended into war and chaos. The lyrical beauty of the island and the utopian possibilities held at the beginning, embodied in the song that Jack and the choir boys sing of “Imagine,” which contains the words, “imagine all the people…living life in peace,” contrasts with the blunt dialogue and fighting. Perhaps it is the corruption of the outside world infiltrating the island, or perhaps the boys’ movement toward dystopia reveals the repressed instincts and drives that emerge during times of crisis, when social influences and restraints like family, school, and law enforcement are stripped away. When such an influence reappears and they are finally rescued, the boys cling to the naval officer and burst into tears.

Subtle decisions surrounding blocking and dialogue accentuated the power of the production as well as its emotional vulnerability. Jack menacingly stepped into other characters’ space when delivering lines; Roger’s presence on the balconied cliff revealed his brute power that he commanded over the assembly. Sam and Eric were of course inseparable brothers. Maurice provided comic relief and physical humor as a counterpoint to Piggy’s philosophical musings. It was evident from the flow of lines and movement on stage that some characters were leaders and others were followers. Ralph provided rationale for his decision-making, his posture bent upward, while Jack rushed headlong into slaughter and paced the stage in a perpetual forward movement.

Directed by FLHS Drama Club Director Christy McIntosh Newson, the play was a collaboration between students of many different talents. From the actors who built community and connections even while on two separate casts, to the costume crew who coped with the abundant fake blood on costume material, to the set crew who built a balcony that could support the entire cast, to the student stage manager who kept everything organized, to Mr. Hatzis and Ms. Pine who made surprise appearances as the naval officer, the production was a welcome return to the stage for both theatergoers and participants.