REVIEW: Lord of the Flies, Theatre Royal, Newcastle, until November 8

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CHILLING, menacing and spellbinding - Matthew Bourne’s interpretation of the classic Lord of the Flies novel was everything I had hoped for.

Golding’s dystopian tale is transported from an island to a deserted theatre, which spills into the audience, reeling you into a world of dark dance.

It all starts off innocently enough, a group of schoolboys, some strapping six-footers, some swamped by their uniforms, find themselves shut off from society. Cue games and japes as they play at being aeroplanes, pull moonies and forage for boxes of crisps.

But as the days tick by slowly, their uniforms and minds begin to unravel.

Playful pranks soon dissolve into a feral fight for survival as pack mentality sets in amongst this troupe of professional and nonprofessional dancers.

The show enlisted 16 local boys - including Joseph Wright, 20, from Roker, and Jack Hindmarch, 13, from Washington - to perform alongside the company’s dancers.

Joseph Wright from Roker  in the new production of Lord of the Flies.

Joseph Wright from Roker in the new production of Lord of the Flies.

Despite only coming together a little over a week ago, the two groups worked together perfectly and I defy anyone not to feel absorbed in this masterclass of story-telling via the medium of dance.

Though Bourne is famed for ballet, this show, co-directed by Scott Ambler, has more of a contemporary dance feel - the robot, that dancefloor classic, even features at one point. Each move carefully honours Golding’s narrative while simultaneously creating a savagery all of its own.

When two tribes go to war, the result is leader Ralph, played with impressive authority by Sam Archer, being pursued and pummelled by a ferocious, chest-beating, Jack (Danny Reubens) and his blood-smeared minions.

A severed pig’s head, held aloft by the maniacal Jack, is a harrowing reminder of how easily societal norms can disintegrate.

I felt disturbed, I felt enthralled, I felt thoroughly entertained.