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Monday, 29 November 2021

REVIEW: The Jungle Book at the Watermill Theatre

The challenge of adapting Rudyard Kipling’s 1894 collection of stories, The Jungle Book is that most of us know the tale from the 1967 Disney cartoon classic which incorporated brilliant music including “The Bare Necessities” and “I wanna be like you” in telling the story. The memories of that film define how we see certain characters when we hear the names of Shere Khan, Baloo, Bagheera, Kaa and of course, the man-cub, Mowgli.  

It is therefore a bold move to reimagine the story from the original book for a new family show as Tom Jackson Greaves has done this Christmas at the Watermill Theatre. He changes the central theme of the book about abandonment and fostering and the challenges of moving between two worlds of the Jungle and Village into a story about acceptance, diversity, the time it takes to change attitudes and a question of where do we belong. It’s a very topical and clever adaption with a powerful message about the need for role models neatly wrapped up in a festive children’s show. It opens and closes powerfully and engagingly but the story telling does drifts off course in the middle section perhaps an issue with the adapter directing and choreographing his own work.
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