Reviewed by Chelsea Wright
Last night (3 April 2018), my partner and myself, attended The Jungle Book at the Theatre Royal in Plymouth. The theatre adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s original story, created through the Children’s Touring Partnership is aimed at children aged eight and above (those younger would also thoroughly enjoy the performance). It is not to be confused with the Disney adaptation, and thus does not include characters created for the movie, such as King Louie, and also does not include the classic Disney songs such as ‘Bare Necessities’.
The characters are enchanting, and the songs even more so. The representation of the animals is simplistic and allows room for a child’s imagination to take some control, which is an amazing touch. The costumes are simple (coloured and textured appropriately for each animal; i.e. a black and orange striped jumpsuit for Shere Khan). The wolves have crutches to allow them to be on all fours throughout the performance, which is incredibly powerful for audience members with disabilities.
There are periods of audience engagement from Baloo and from the ‘Funky Monkeys’; the monkeys are very much intended for younger audiences, with a very cliché attempt at hip-hop and younger slang, allowing for the engagement of its intended audiences.
The set, provided by the Royal and Derngate Northampton, was engaging and contemporary, an assortment of ladders and floor panels that changed levels throughout the show were used to depict trees; further the revolving stage floor allowed for another dimension, and a more contemporary feel to the production. There was a good mix of background and foreground action on the stage, and so there were no moments in which there was nothing to focus on.
I left the production utterly moved by the underlying tone of acceptance and equality. The importance of this narrative was exerted throughout the performance, with it being explained that different is good, and that everyone is accepted for who they are, and that someone is always there for you. This is an incredibly important message to be displaying, especially to young viewers. The songs are still stuck in my head!
I would give this performance 4 out of 5, and would definitely recommend viewing this, especially as a family show for those with children aged 4-14.
Tickets cost from £10 to £26.50 (booking fees may apply).
The Jungle Book is at the Theatre Royal in Plymouth from 3-7 April 2018, for more information or to book tickets visit www.theatreroyal.com or call the box office on 01752 267222.
Theatre Royal Plymouth, Royal Parade, Plymouth, PL1 2TR | 01752 267222