Dance Review: Lord of the Flies – Arts Centre Melbourne (Performances until April 9th)

At the sudden reverberation of a thud-like sound, the State Theatre was pitch black. And so began Matthew Bourne‘s incomparable adaptation of Lord of the Flies. For those who have never read the book, seen the play or the movie, then this theatre experience will leave you feeling triumphant and proud, for what you will witness is nothing short of extraordinary.

Last year, Bourne and his creative team held auditions to find an ensemble of male dancers here in Melbourne to take part in this dance project, and what an experience it was. Making its first ever international debut in Melbourne meant years of behind the scenes preparation, but it was absolutely worth it. This prestigious project allowed our budding and professional dancers the opportunity to work with the best in the biz; to hone their skills, to further grow as a dancer, to be mentored and to believe in their abilities to transcend the movement and tell a story.

Seeing the generations of boys and men bring this savage story to life was remarkable, and while 106 talented boys from all over the state auditioned for the show, only 30 were successful in being selected, and you can just see why. They’re not just dancers up on that stage; they’re storytellers. Their commitment to the narrative goes beyond many of their young years, and understanding the dark themes and showing it with their bodies is a credit to co-director and choreographer Scott Ambler.

It’s clear that through modern contemporary dance, Amblar has been able to highlight the dancer’s strengths and nurture their performance. With that being said, there are three standouts in the ensemble including Melbourne’s own Taylor Scanlan, Damian Meredith and original cast member from the UK Dominic North. The quality and maturity of their work does not go unnoticed, and while this show wouldn’t be the same without the impact of all 32 ensemble dancers, these three do stand as strong leads.

With a wonderfully powerful original score created by Terry Davies, this adaptation was able to reach its fullest potential through dramatic crescendos and spritely rhythms. The depth of orchestrations was then further enhanced by the excellent lighting design by Chris Davey. As the storyline shows the regimented form of private school boys transforming into savages at the notion of power, all elements of set design, costume, music and lighting become symbolic and representative of a disturbing culture brewing within.

What an incredible journey it has been for our local dancers, and what a future they have in store.

Matthew Bourne’s Lord of the Flies is only showing until this Sunday April 9 at the Arts Centre Melbourne and is a must see! Get your tickets right here, right now.

The reviewer attended the show on April 5th.