Book: Rudyard Kipling
Writer: Kevin Dyer
Music: Angus McLeod
Director: Nina Hakiyianni
Reviewer: Jamie Gaskin
With the film version of The Jungle Book still a firm favourite, a stage version is a good bet for children, especially at Christmas.
The characters and tales are originally spread across two Jungle Books that Rudyard Kipling wrote in 1894 and 1895. The cast ensured there was fun from the outset for their fledgling theatregoers by getting them involved in the action. Stealing stuff from the audience works a treat as crowd-pleaser.
Angus McLeod’s music helps to carry the narrative forward and Nina Hajiyianni’s direction flows well across the sparse all-purpose simple stage which is a perfect foil for Sascha Gilmour’s imposing jungle backdrop.
As well as the main characters of Mowgli, Baloo, Bagheera and Shere Khan the cast of Fionnuala Dorrity, Asif Majid, Samuel Perez Duran and Joe Shipman slip in and out of the other characters with ease and in convincing style. Baloo the Bear predictably overplaying his “death” scene to everyone’s delight.
Indeed, we could have done with more such moments, overall the production lacks a little animal magic and dramatic sparkle. Not as compelling as some of Action Transport Theatre’s other festive pieces. That said the set-piece musical items go down very well with the audience.
Mowgli’s dilemma of whether he was a man-cub or wolf-cub deserves more time and effort. But it’s good to see how he adapted, or failed to adapt, to life in the man-village.
I think the young audience would like to see more of the comic antics of the minor characters, particularly the vultures and the monkeys which could make excellent action theatre.
The Jungle Book is a colourful and festive offering but needs more of Shere Khan’s bite.
Runs until 6th January 2018 | Image: Contributed