Dir. Kirsty Mcadam and Tom White, Qudos QMU, 11th Oct 2015
Kirsty McAdam and Tom White’s adaptation of The Jungle Book begins by introducing us to the infant Mowgli (James Bearsworth) wrapped in blankets. He is placed in the protective care of his new wolf father, Akela (Alex Davies). Two lovable characters we are all familiar with Baloo (Elliot Thompson) and Bagheera (Georgina Welsh) are also protectors of the wolf-boy: Thompson and Welsh create a fun and heartfelt bond as they both come together for their love of little Mowgli and reminds us of the importance of family.
For the majority of the play poor Mowgli’s life comes under threat from the great tiger Shere Khan (Edward Horrocks) who has a roar that manages to strike fear into the hearts of the audience.
Mowgli also has to deal with some extremely enthusiastic and very musical monkeys who bring a delightful edge of fun to the play – especially with their catchy Run-D.M.C styled rap song. Yet he also faces human threats: the villagers shun him from the community with their leader Buldeo (Harry Jones) a character that is the epitome of traditional British gentlemanliness, a complete delusion of one’s own grandiosity, Jones is however delightfully comic and majestically plays with the audience (and his flute) to create a character that is both likeable whilst villainess.
Although at times very comic, the performance manages to retain some of the serious issues of original story, the battle with nature, morality, law and justice. Mowgli manages to survive through his teaching and support including the help from a wonderfully sensual Kaa (Amanda Sun) who hypnotically glides about the stage and inspires some entertaining although questionable dancing – a great piece of directing from McAdam and White to give the performance a modern vibe. Not forgetting the gift of Prometheus – man’s red flower – that was very ingeniously created for the stage.
Mowgli’s triumphs are born from the help of those that love him and when he is true to himself. In this sense the play works as a terrific analogy of taking a new step into life’s journey such as going to university – to not fear about where you belong but to shine brightly in a blaze of glory for just being you.