Edinburgh Fringe 2016
A host of quirky and very loveable characters take their very mixed-aged audience on an intriguing and, at times, exciting jungle adventure.
A trip down to the enchanting C South venue at St Peter’s Church in Lutton Place to see Strung Up Theatre’s reimagining of Kipling’s The Jungle Book. Using a combination of bright, almost circus like colours, aerial-acrobatics, a dash of puppetry and plenty of evocative, expressive live music, a host of quirky and very loveable characters take their very mixed-aged audience on an intriguing and, at times, exciting jungle adventure.
Jungle sounds greet us as we tip-toe in, fearful that we might place our size tens (or smaller) on some animal hidden amongst the seats. Colourful jungly tendrils hang from the rafters and there’s an intriguing piece of apparatus that looks a bit like a swing, but clearly isn’t. Figures flit and fly across the stage, emitting animal like noises and then, suddenly, quiet descends as we home in on Elsie, who is looking for Two Tails, the elephant, who has apparently taken the opportunity to go for a bit of a wander.
Keen to be reunited with her friend, Elsie ventures into the jungle to find him. But a man-cub in a jungle sets the drums a-beating and she soon finds herself befriended by an eclectic variety of those living life under the leafy canopy, some of whom may not always have Elsie’s best interests at heart.
Cascading dialogue, tight choreography and some nifty acrobatics create a mood that ranges from the plain humorous to the downright scary. The live music, neatly interwoven amongst the dialogue and movement, together with some innovative lighting and other sound effects augment what quickly becomes a spellbinding atmosphere. You dare not take your eye off the stage for a second lest you miss some intriguing nuance of animal/human or animal/animal interaction.
Posture and movement are pitch perfect ensuring that it’s always clear which animal each actor is playing. Narration and signposting are also top notch, with the story always being conveyed with clarity, whichever cast member happened to be “on duty” in that regard. Add to this some spectacular twisting and turning on the jungly tendrils (don’t try this on the curtains at home, kids) and some exquisite comedic physical theatre and you’ve the recipe for a show that holds the attention from start to finish.
“Cute” Disney this is not. This is a fresh, innovative and extremely creative take on Kipling’s original tale put together with great attention to detail in terms of acting, action, sound and light each of which combined to produce an example of storytelling at its best. Technically tight and enchanting to boot, a “must see” in fact.