Shoreditch Town Hall
22nd Feb to 11th March 2023
“An exceptional cast of BRIT school actors and alumni will star in the long-awaited world premiere of Charlie Josephine’s Flies. Following the critical success of Josephine’s trail-blazing I, Joan (The Globe), the acclaimed writer will once again disrupt the narrative and challenge convention with their bold new play, inspired by the classic William Golding novel Lord of the Flies.
Flies is an explosive take on the male gaze and how it continues to impact young women. It’s about girls being looked at by boys. It’s about hitting puberty and being smacked by sexism: the power and the shame, the pleasure and the fear that flies around your body when you’re constantly being looked at. Questioning where they can find joyful and safe spaces that are free from sexual objectification, this electric one-act piece explores how the male gaze permeates the stories we tell and how we tell those stories. Imagining a life free from the patriarchy, Flies dares to envision a truly feminist future for everyone.”
Review by Richard Lambert, 3 Stars
We’re told that all plays are written by men, cast with men and are for men. I have to disagree. There are so many famous females of both stage and screen. Gertrude Lawrence, Ethel Merman, Carol Channing, Elaine Stritch, Angela Lansbury, Barbara Cook, Chita Rivera, Julie Andrews, Liza Minnelli, Bernadette Peters, Patti LuPone, Audra McDonald, Judi Dench, Maggie Smith…..I’ll finish here as could on forever with a very long list. Couple that with women predominantly choosing what shows to see and I believe society has changed and is changing but women were part of that guiding narrative have not been excluded in the manner this production would have you believe.
The writer here wants to be known as a “they” so it’s strange that the cast list doesn’t provide pronouns when it is common practise these days to do so. Even without pronouns, this production would look to be extremely gender biassed towards women. How does that address gender balance? Pot and kettle comes to mind.
And how do we know that the writer is a “they”? Because the writer has written herself into almost every scene: “the writer this” and “the writer that” and “the writer wants”……and one of the actors says something like “the writer was born a female but is now a they”. Whoop dee doo. What an ego trip!
Looking for the positives, this production is a technical marvel! The lighting and sound both brilliant and operated with impeccable timing! Huge congratulations to the Stage Manager on keeping this show in sync! The accents of the Sound and Lights need split-second focus. The Director has used this technique to immediately switch the mood and all of this works extremely well. There is also a live camera feed onto the main screen showing one of the girls lying on the floor surrounded by the other actors and flowers. With laptops around the performance area displaying certain images the AV on this show is very intricate.
The cast are all from the Brit School. Seven women angry about “the male gaze”. Complaining that women are given advise about how to stay safe. Posters educating them. Making fun that over the years the posters have changed their colour and fonts. Claiming that the problem is men haven’t been educated how to behave around women. Again, I have to disagree, parents and teachers do educate boys how to behave around women. Sadly, with some men this doesn’t work. And there are posters I’ve seen on the Underground calling out men’s behaviour that is unacceptable, bringing it to attention, and encouraging on-lookers to practise safe intervention.
Come the final scene it all gets rather drama school with the actors throwing paint around, slamming rolls of coloured lighting gel on trolleys, even knocking over a clothes rail which unfortunately landed on 2 audience members sat in the front row.
All in all, not a play I enjoyed, but the production elements are of a very high standard.
Afriya-Jasmine Nylander, Annabel Gray, Ellie-Rose Amit, Louisa Hamdi, Pearl Adams, Rosa Amos, Willow Traynor
Writer Charlie Josephine
Director Julia Head
Designer Cat Fuller
Movement Director Nandi Bhebhe
Lighting Designer Martha Godfrey
Sound Designer Nicole Raymond
AV Designer James Kent
Production Manager Misha Mah
Stage manager Adriana Perucca
Assistant Stage Manager Katie Glassbrook
Assistant Director Elizabeth Anderson
Dates Wednesday 22nd February – Saturday 11th March 2023, 7.30pm
Location Shoreditch Town Hall, 380 Old Street, London EC1V 9LT
How to get there The nearest underground station is Old Street and the nearest overground station is Shoreditch High Street.
Buses stopping nearby include the 26, 35, 47, 48, 55, 67, 78, 135, 149, 242 and 243.
The nearest NCP car park is at Finsbury Square.
Running time 70 minutes
Age guidance 14+
Box Office Tickets are available from the Shoreditch Town Hall website