One of our all-time favourite films was coming in the theatre. We’d have been mad to miss it – and so would you! This was the fun-filled theatre adaptation of the Rudyard Kipling classic (perfected by Disney) known as The Jungle Book.
The small cast of actors engages the audience from the beginning. With a twist on the original, featuring characters we know and love but adopting the use of modern songs and storytelling. The jungle is the book, open and waiting for you to delve into it and explore. Mowgli, the orphaned boy raised by wolves as one of their own, learning the way of the jungle. Guarded by his furry mentors, Bagheera the panther and the lovable Baloo the bear.
There was certainly no lack of talent and skill on stage. From singing to dancing to playing musical instruments. All the while mimicking a multitude of creatures from across the animal kingdom. Made all the more impressive by lightning-quick costume changes that had us rubbing our eyes trying to figure out if that was indeed the same actor who just left the stage!
The premise behind the piece was one of paying attention to how we treat our environment. A great illustration of how humanity is not alone on this earth, even though we sometimes act like it. If only sometimes we stopped to think, for how we treat others (of all shapes, sizes & species) we could make the world a better place.
The set was simple yet came alive. Making great use of natural materials and several different levels, we found ourselves in a jungle setting. Plenty of room for the characters to explore this dense landscape.
We see Mowgli (Keziah Joseph) grow from a little inquisitive toddler to a strong-willed, brave ‘man-cub’. Keziah’s performance was unmissable. With powerful ballads that ensured a few misty eyes in the audience. Baloo (Dyfrig Morris) and Bagheera (Deborah Oyelade) are also worth mentioning, who shared great chemistry.
Whilst a lot of the story is recognisable, this depiction lacks what I would call the ‘essential aspects’ within. A desperate wanting to hear the ‘bare necessities’ performed live on stage. To be told to trust in Kaa. To be mimicked by King Louie and his tribe of monkeys. But I suppose that’s the Disney addict in me.
All in all, this is a fantastic production to take your kids to. The Director Max Webster has a lot to be proud of here. A beautiful retelling of a story many of us know and a fantastic introduction into a sparkling world for those of you that aren’t familiar.