THE Jungle Book is a dark tale of a boy, Mowgli (Elliot Swann), raised by wolves and mentored by Bagheera (Jack Tutt) and Baloo (Chevin Dash), who teach him jungle lore and morals about heroism, safety and friendship and protect him from the hypnotic Kaa (Leah Lloyd) and the arrogant Shere Khan (Steve Arnold of Coronation street fame, amongst other credits).
I took my four-year old son as my companion, wondering if a show could appeal to both of us.
The Groundlings Theatre is entrancing in itself, but the set was something else, given the complexities of the unique building. From the get-go the children were spellbound, despite the intricacies of the language.
That is testament to the performances, given in the round, with the audience both within and outside the action and the characters’ interactions with them.
The actors became the animals, with the wonderfully elaborate costumes and subtle make-up cleverly implying their origin, while highlighting they individuality.
Each animal told their story through movement and expression and the rich prose became a backdrop to the story.
The monkey’s antics were a firm favorite with the children, as was the mongoose, Rikki Tikki (Rachel Webb).
The adults appreciated the production on a different level but watched it equally wide-eyed.
This is a production with integrity and artistry that appeals to all ages, performed by a talented cast in a beautiful theatre. I will be beating my jungle drums about it for some time.
The Jungle Book at Groundlings theatre: A bear necessity
Atmosphere and adventure combine in this family-friendly adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book. This play tells the classic tale of Mowgli and his jungle friends, Baloo and Bagheera, as well as the antics of Rikki-Tikki-Tavi the snake-fighting mongoose and other well-known characters to bring about a performance that guarantees a fun evening out for the whole family. The unique set design means that characters can walk through the audience to create a 360 degree performance- but watch out for those monkeys!
The play starts with Lucy, a girl who is denied a bedtime story from her mother, and so she begins to tell her own. She serves as a narrator to the play, not only describing the story as it unfolds but also creating an atmosphere of storytelling.
Each character has a distinct personality. Baloo’s protectiveness over Mowgli often leads to amusing fights with the more playful Bagheera, but that doesn't stop Mowgli from provocatively flaunting his knowledge of the many languages in the jungle.
But Kaa’s hypnotic powers of deception and Shere Khan’s frightening reputation are never far away.
The story unfolds as Mowgli is hunted by Shere Khan and is led back towards his own kind by Bagheera. Only time will tell where Mowgli chooses to go: will he go back to his own people or will he stay in the jungle?
All in all, The Jungle Book promises a fun evening out and won’t fail to provide a few giggles here and there, so what are you waiting for?