Last year’s TV images of Hurricane Katrina and the Cronulla riots left a haunting impression on theatre director Iain Sinclair.

While the events in New Orleans and Cronulla were vastly different circumstances, it was the images and tales of communities breaking down as citizens readily attacked each other which horrified Sinclair, but also made him question how stable modern society really is.

Sinclair’s father made the comment while watching the TV coverage This is just like Lord Of The Flies. And with that, the idea for the new stage production of Lord Of The Flies was born.

The play, which opens next week at the Stables Theatre, is a theatrical adaptation of the classic novel by Nobel Prize winner, William Golding.

I remember my Dad’s comment, and then we talked about how as soon as you remove government and order, things quickly collapse in on itself, Sinclair says.

It made me think about how thin the veneer of civilisation is, and it seems to be getting thinner all the time.

Lord Of The Flies follows what happens when a group of schoolboys are stranded on a deserted island and left to fend for themselves.

Without structure in their lives, they quickly create a new social order before turning on each other in a deadly battle for survival.

The play features 10 actors playing the various boys, including Mark Priestley, Henry Nixon, Jamie Croft and Darren Weller.

The two characters in the play who quickly become targeted for bullying and eventually terrorised by the rest of the gang are the fat youngster Piggy and Simon, the quiet, intellectual one of the group.

It’s interesting that so many of the actors I spoke with say they identified with the role of Simon, and I think I did as well as kid, as he is quite the dreamer, Sinclair says.

My take on it is that Piggy is representative of government and Simon of culture and philosophy, and yet these two become the first targets of the gang.

Sinclair, who also directed last year’s production of Hurlyburly, believes there is a myriad of other undertones and themes running through Lord Of The Flies, as seen through the close relationship of the characters of Roger and Jack, and the symbolism of the killing of the suckling mother pig.

This play is so relevant for our times, he says. I now look at Lord Of The Flies as a parable from the 1950s that we didn’t listen to, like Brave New World and 1984.

Cronulla is such a good example, as it only took one afternoon before normal suburban Australians were attacking each other. I think it is time we started paying attention to whether or not democracy is in danger, and this is what this play is really all about.

Lord Of The Flies plays at SBW Stables Theatre from May 17. Bookings on 1300 376 776.

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