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The Jungle Book

by on 8 February 2018

An Encapsulation of Mesmerising Imagination

The Jungle Book

by Jessica Swale, adapted from Rudyard Kipling’s stories.

Children’s Touring Partnership and Royal & Derngate at Richmond Theatre until 10th February, then on tour until 12th May 

Review by Viola Selby

Deep within the urban Jungle of Richmond, a group known as The Children’s Touring Partnership are putting on a wild performance of a tale that is well known but which has never been told like this before. Through first class acting, mesmerising costumes and stage sets and a musical ensemble brilliantly created by Jessica Swale and Joe Stilgoe, the audience are transported into the heart of an Indian jungle and become a part of the adventures of Mowgli and his friends.

Jungle book 2 (Manuel Harlan)

To begin with, the stage is set with just a bed and a small light, just on this one prop. There is no noise apart from the atmospheric humming of one of the two actresses on stage. This is just one of the many clever set designs, created by the ingenious Peter Mckintosh, which encapsulates the audience and allows their imaginations to run as wild as the animals on stage. The use of wooden panels and ladders act perfectly as trees and vines, turning the stage into a tropical playground. This same level of creative genius can also be seen through the costumes of the characters. Peter Mckintosh has really outdone himself with his amazing line of outfits that truly highlight particular traits of each animal. One particular outfit that left me gobsmacked was Kaa’s body. A beautiful long green tube constantly wriggling and writhing like a real snake. This as well as all the others, from the fiery orange stripes of the tiger to the use of crutches as the front legs of the wolves, makes this show not just a pleasure to listen to but an absolute treat for the eyes.


As the story progresses, the actors continue to astound and amaze. Through the witty writings of Jessica Swale, childhood favourites such as Baloo and Bagheera are given a whole new lease of life and are made relatable both to adults and children alike. Although Baloo, performed by the talented Dyfrig Morris, is still as hilarious as ever, Bagheera is now a sassy feline, portrayed by the top cat herself Deborah Oyelade, who will not let any male mammal tell her what to do. Whilst the very agile Kesiah Jones, as Mowgli, manages to master the subtlety of character development, through the way she shows Mowgli’s realisation of who he really is and becoming a man.

Jungle book 3 (Manuel Harlan)

One thing, however, viewers may find strange is their draw to the baddies. Although I knew I was meant to be fully against Sheer Khan, his bad boy image and being clad in a black and orange leather biker outfit, with the exceptional rock-n’-roll vocals of Lloyd Gorman, it was hard not to be a fan girl of the bad boy of the jungle. I also found myself and many of the adult audience members relating very strongly to Kaa’s sulking over the awfulness of ageing as she shed another skin.

Jungle book 4 (Manuel Harlan)

In addition to this artistry and talent, there are also many other scenes that create humour and keep the audience very much entertained. For example, one of my particularly favourite parts was meeting the infamous monkeys, who have been given a modern makeover. They have now created a group called The Funkies and keep audience in stitches with their street slang and awful jokes. Whilst the occasional use of audience participation keeps all audience members, young and old, fully engaged and everyone clapping along to the music, the play has a wonderful overall feeling and message of inclusion, making this one adventure to the jungle all the family will enjoy.

Viola Selby
February 2018

Photography by Manuel Harlan


From → Drama, Musicals, Reviews

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