Running Wild, based on a true story by Michael Morpurgo, is the latest of his works to be adapted for the stage. Beginning a UK tour in February 2017 at Chichester Festival Theatre, Running Wild has had a four day run at The Marlowe Theatre in Canterbury which I have been lucky enough to be invited to. The theatre is absolutely packed for opening night. There is a real buzz and atmosphere in the air with lots of children in the audience.
Running Wild tells the story of Lilly who goes on holiday with her mother to Idonesia. Whilst riding an elephant a tsunami hits and Lilly is taken to safety by Oona, her new animal companion. It details her survival and struggles alongside her passion and vivacity for life, whilst her grandmother desperately searches for her.
The vision of the creative team is remarkable. I’ve never sat in a theatre and felt that much tension in a room before. The scene in which the tsunami hits is so powerful that it brings a lump to my throat. The combination of music, lights and set really helps to create a sense of power, struggle, fear and suspense.
The ensemble are the true standout for me. The puppetry skills are incredible. The skill, training and stamina required to manoeuvre those puppets is impressive. Oona, the elephant and main character of the story, is so believable. I am completely captivated by the portrayal of this elephant, knowing that it isn’t real but being utterly drawn in. It takes four puppeteers to move the elephant across the stage, and often I forget they are there. The ease and subtlety of movement must have taken months to perfect.
The energy and enthusiasm with which the ensemble perform is also captivating. The use of soundscapes – creating sound with voice – is so much more effective than music or instrumental accompaniment. The entire play is slick, sharp and well polished.
Running Wild is visually spectacular. It is a complete feast for the senses teamed with powerful storytelling. Perfect for the whole family, adults and children alike. It deals with sensitive topics such as poaching and extinction too, which is quite hard to watch at times but the message it delivers is an important one.
Review written by Stacie Pollard.
Running Wild was shown at the Marlowe Theatre from Wednesday 31st May until Saturday 3rd June 2017. For more information on the tour, visit here…