The Flies at the Bunker
This is an interesting collaboration with a live rock band, but ultimately a disappointing return for Jean-Paul Sartre’s The Flies.
The story is adapted from Greek mythology, taking place in the city of Argos that is currently controlled by Aegisthus and Clytemnestra after they murdered Agamemnon. To retain their control and keep order, the pair spread fear among the citizens. But Agamemnon’s children, Orestes and Electra, come together to end the hatred.
Satre originally wrote The Flies in 1943 as a commentary on resisting and rebelling against Nazism. Exchange Theatre brought it to audiences in 2009 in reference to the fear mongering around weapons of mass destruction. And now they bring it back again because of Brexit; it’s is the latest casualty in a three-year obsession of saying “that play kind of relates to Brexit so let’s just give it a run without worrying about quality”.
What is interesting about this production is the band and A Riot in Heaven play live on stage throughout the performance, from laying down incredibly tense and eerie atmospheric tones to full-blown explosive music. It’s a really cool collaboration and the sound the musicians produce with just an electric guitar, bass and drums is wicked. But the rest of the show feels incredibly bloated. Half of every scene could be cut without being missed, making the whole thing rather tiring to watch.
A mic stand sits innocuously in the background, providing hope that the misery will soon be broken by a rock out with the band. Unfortunately, the three songs, if they can be called such, shatter that hope like a four-inch fall shatters an iPhone screen.
Singing aside, the cast aren’t bad, though they seem a bit under-rehearsed, often tripping over their lines, and Meena Rayann, as Electra, is the only performer who ever really shows any proper emotion.
Aided by the great music, and some unintelligible shouting through a megaphone, The Flies definitely generates tension and suspense, and the set is also pretty effective in creating a fearful, almost apocalyptic environment, with broken tech and TV screens strewn about, displaying propaganda. But The Flies is ultimately undercut by a complete lack of anything engaging.
Photo: Camille Dufrénoy
The Flies is at the Bunker from 11th June until 16th July 2019. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.