The Jungle Book - Theatre ☆☆☆3
Showing from - Thursday, August 13, 2015 through till Saturday, August 15, 2015
Lawrence Batley Theatre - Huddersfield
Louise Halliwell | Thursday, August 13, 2015
The well-known story of the Jungle Book needs little introduction, and this adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s classic remains true to its roots – steering clear of any ‘Disney-ness’.
It tells the tale of a little foundling boy named Mowgli (played by Joseph Greaves) who is brought up in the Indian jungle by a pack of wolves. The story tracks Mowgli’s progress into adulthood and the challenges he faces trying to discover his true identity. Mowgli’s friends, Baloo (Mandip Kaur) and Bagheera (Nick Duffett), teach him about the jungle and encourage him to confront his greatest fear - Shere Khan the tiger (Tom Joshi- Cali) - as the hunted eventually becomes the hunter.
An example of good youth theatre
This production is the work of a collaboration of talented young people from across the local Kirklees area, with ages ranging between 9 and 18 years old. Through a combination of effective choreography and confident movement, they made good use of physical theatre techniques to tell the storyIt was clear that those involved have worked hard on every aspect of the production - from acting to creating the props - as they delivered a polished piece of theatre. The performance was punctuated by music from Sam Hodgson whose excellent use of various drums, clarinet, guitar and other instruments supported and enhanced the narrative.
The stage apron has been purposefully built out into the auditorium to offer a ‘theatre in the round’ feel. However, this did confuse the audience as the seat numbering wasn’t immediately clear - instead of settling down and fully appreciating the sense of jungle atmosphere created by the sound and lighting team, they found themselves shuffling around trying to make sense of the seating arrangements.
Once the performance got underway, the design and layout of the stage offered a significant amount of space that the cast members used to their advantage. Through a combination of effective choreography and confident movement, they made good use of physical theatre techniques to tell the story. The actors ensured that the audience were engaged throughout, projecting their lines to make sure that they could be heard by all – at no point did the audience loose the script because of the actor’s positioning (which can be difficult to achieve with this type of set design).
There are all the characters you’d expect to see in a production of the Jungle Book.
The actors brought the animals and their behaviours to life through good use of characterisation and physical movements, all performances were solid and confident. The cast members were supported by a handful of key props that were used to successfully portray the jungle setting and the movement of time between each scene. The costumes were beautifully designed and stayed true to the original Indian roots of the story, however this perhaps made it slightly more difficult for the younger members of the audience to immediately determine some of the characters. There are no fluffy head pieces or painted animal faces in this production!
The performance itself lasts just over 70 minutes and takes place within one act, with the actors remaining on stage and in character for the duration. This can be hard work for any actor, however the decision not to have an interval was the right one as it ensured that the story moved at a good pace and energy levels were not lost.
All in all, a good opening night and a solid youth theatre production of a classic story that can be enjoyed and appreciated by the whole family.
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