I was keen to see The Jungle Book after learning that it was created by The Children’s Touring Partnership, which seeks to create bold and imaginative theatre of the highest quality for children aged eight and above, throughout the UK. The Children’s Touring Partnership have recently produced The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, which was fantastic and Running Wild, an adaptation of the novel of the same name by Michael Morpurgo, which I also thoroughly enjoyed.
Jessica Swale has attempted to recreate the stories of Rudyard Kipling for a young audience. Yet, her script is clunky in parts and lacks polish and finesse. Swale works alongside Joe Stilgoe, who has created original songs with clear morals and values that are catchy and certainly child appropriate. Some of the cast members are also musicians, demonstrating real versatility and craft. The set is a clever combination of ladders and gym equipment, utilised to become different parts of the jungle.
Keziah Joseph is the highlight of the show for me. Her energy, commitment and enthusiasm lights up the stage. She attempts to bring energy, throughout her entire performance. It is easy to forget that she is a grown woman! She conveys Mowgli, an adolescent boy, remarkably. Joseph portrays Mowgli with a sense of playfulness and courage alongside naivety and innocence. It is interesting to see her character develop and grow. Shere Khan [Lloyd Gorman] is like a pantomime villain, in a tight fitting black and orange catsuit. Bagheera [Deborah Oyelade] and Baloo [Dyfrig Morris] make a quirky pair, who attempt to inject some humour throughout.
Swale’s adaptation of The Jungle Book attempts to give the ideas of family and community a 21st century spin. There are a number of moments in which characters deliver inspirational messages such as believing in yourself and accepting your own (and others) differences. 2.5 / 5
Review written by Stacie Pollard.
The Jungle Book was shown from Wednesday 25th to Sunday 29th April 2018 at the Marlowe Theatre. The show is currently on tour, to find out more, visit here…