REVIEW: The Jungle Book is a cleverly staged infectious musical adventure for all the family
- Credit: Archant
With a message of accepting who you are, regardless of your age, gender, race or, in this case, which jungle animal you may or may not be, The Jungle Book is a fast-paced heartwarming tale of childhood, adolescence and bravery.
An exciting, vibrant take on Rudyard Kipling’s family classic but with modern twists, this musical adventure from the team behind Goodnight Mister Tom and Michael Morpurgo’s Running Wild comes complete with showstopping songs, believable and loveable characters, clever set design, brilliant costumes and a well developed plot.
Adapted by the Olivier Award-winning Jessica Swale and featuring live music on stage created by Joe Stilgoe, each cast member shines in their own way.
From the mightily voiced Keziah Joseph (an incredible singer and actor) as mancub protagonist Mowgli who fears he’ll be cast out of the wolf pack and just wants to be accepted, to Dyfrig Morris as cuddly honey-loving bear Balloo (bringing a Welsh, farm type personality to the role) who quickly has to shape up as a daddy alongside sleek panther Bagheera (a finely voiced Deborah Oyelade).
Then there’s the big bad panto villain, in this case it’s power-hungry tiger Shere Khan, mercilessly played by Lloyd Gorman who sports a leather, sequin covered fiery ensemble - doing a great job at terrifying the rest of the characters with his presence.
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The Funky Monkeys are easily the funniest gang in the production, first appearing out of nowhere and even climbing on one of the audience members briefly - creating some rather shocked faces. They are streetwise, silly and amusing to children and adults alike; especially the fart jokes and the ‘amazeballs’, ‘banging’ banter between them.
The stage design is simplistic yet effective, as a circular platform rotates in the centre and wooden ladders hang from the ceiling to resemble trees. As well as faultless choreography, the costumes are equally impressive; each resembling the animals perfectly; from the monkeys’ huge ears and furry tails to the wolves who appear on crutches so they’re on four legs at all times.
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As for the performance itself, there are metaphors aplenty - about accepting others rather than judging them, the importance of family and friends and, most importantly, why everyone needs to be brave every now and then.
The Jungle Book is on the Cambridge Arts Theatre state until Saturday. Visit www.cambridgeartstheatre.com for performance times and tickets.