Lord of the Flies

Lord of the Flies

Theatre Royal, Glasgow

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Mary Brennan

FIRST time round in 2011 it took months of planning for this Re:Bourne initiative to hit the Theatre Royal - not just running, but leaping, stomping and going savagely amok in a visionary mix of professional male dancers (from Matthew Bourne's own New Adventures company) and local lads with no real movement training or experience.

The impact, off-stage as well as on, was beyond expectations. The feeling was this inclusive version of Lord of The Flies was too valuable to gather dust. So here it is again. Back where it started as part of a UK-wide touring package that is now giving boys from Skye to the Scillies a chance to dance in a professional production that you could say goes for the jugular of Golding's story.

His concept of what happens when a group of schoolboys are left to their own devices is now re-located from a desert island to a deserted theatre. At first it seems a safe haven from the war exploding outside, and with no adults laying down the do's and don'ts. But as time passes, the larking about twists into something darker.

The older boys - Bourne's dancers - come to blows over who should lead the pack, with Ralph (Dominic North) stepping up to the challenge of responsibility with an air of brisk decency that you know will eventually lose out to the lure of Jack's tribal-warriors approach to survival.

To see the local recruits, ranging from nine to late teens, morphing from neatly uniformed schoolboys to war-painted savages - swarming over the scaffolding heights of the set or brandishing fighting sticks in fierce ritual manouevres - is to see anarchy and blood-lust bursting out of a previously well-regulated community.

It's fiercely, fabulously unnerving, the choreography pinpointing the harrowing loss of innocence while showing how well-judged body language can carry not just narrative but the hidden depths of emotional subtext. A triumph for all involved - but maybe a shock for watching parents!