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BWW Review: LORD OF THE FLIES: THE EXPERIENCE by Florida Rep Education

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Playing now at Calusa Nature Center!


Florida Rep Education’s Conservatory production of LORD OF THE FLIES is a new and reimagined take on the well-known story.

LORD OF THE FLIES follows a group of students who have survived a plane crash and are finding their own ways to survive in the outdoors. One side of the group deems themselves the hunters, and they are on a mission to be violent and kill whatever (or whoever) they feel they need to. The other side of the group wants everyone to have rules and stick together to survive in a much more peaceful way. This is a dark but impactful story of human survival and instinct.

In this production, Director Kody C Jones has reimagined the telling of this tale. The show takes place through a nature trail at Calusa Nature Center, and it is incredibly immersive. You, the audience, become part of the “search and rescue” crew as you look for the students whose plane crashed. You first go through search and rescue training before embarking on your mission. Each scene takes place along the trail, and you follow the actors from “stage” to “stage.” You are living the story with them in real-time, and it is a fascinating and compelling experience.

This production has two different casts, and I was lucky enough to see both. The blue cast features Ellie Appelgren as Jack, Gigi Lieze-Adams as Simon, Macy Magas as Piggy, and Shennan Nelson as Ralph, along with many others playing other students. The red cast features Michael G. Shelley as Jack, Cooper VanderMeer as Simon, River Reed as Piggy, and Landon Maas as Ralph, along with many others playing other students.

Each of the Florida Rep Education students was truly fantastic. Appelgren and Shelley played equally haughty and aggressive versions of Jack, making the show very intense. Lieze-Adams and VanderMeer as Simon each showcased the fear and trauma Simon has been through, and have heartbreaking scenes in the show. Reed and Magas were each great as Piggy, displaying Piggy’s innocence well. Nelson and Maas as Ralph each gave very moving performances; Ralph is determined to stick to what is right and good and does what is necessary to protect the group and the friends made along the way. Most of all, all of these actors, along with the rest of the casts, show us what it is like to be young and without guidance. They all handle this tragic situation in different ways, and some are much scarier and more violent than others. One of the most gut-punching scenes in the show is the very last one. I won’t spoil it for you, but it is a wake-up call both to the characters in the show as well as the audience.

Alongside Kody C Jones, the creative team includes Zeke Bocklage as the associate director, Katie Lowe as the sound designer, Rebecca Rankin as the costume designer, and Miranda White as the props artist. I really enjoyed and appreciated each detail this team put into the show. It truly immersed you into the story and location and made the production more impactful.

There are very few tickets and only one weekend left for this show (Feb. 19 and 20), but I would absolutely check it out if you can. It’s a unique and creative theatre experience, and one that is not to be missed. Florida Rep’s Education students are brilliant, and this is yet another show that exemplifies such. For more information and to buy tickets, click here:

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