Brighton Fringe 2014
This adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s ‘Just So Stories’ is performed with fun by the actors through song, movement and puppets.
The Just So Stories were written by Rudyard Kipling when he lived in Rottingdean near Brighton at the start of the 20th century. The Cliffhanger Company of six actors, three female and three male, bring their adaptation of the stories to The Unitarian Church. This energetic company, dressed similarly in sandy coloured costumes, base their production around a family of cave people, a couple with one daughter who find out about life through magic and adventure. As the audience come in, small children are encouraged to sit on the floor in front of the chairs, with their parents if they don’t want to sit alone, and one of the actresses gets them to beat on a small drum. One by one the animals are introduced and we find Rudyard Kipling’s fun descriptions of how some of the wild animals were tamed and how others were transformed into the shapes we now know them. Some animals are bribed to become tame, the cow given grass to become tame and give milk. The milk is then given to the cat to tame him but there is still a problem between the cat and the dog. The father and daughter go off hunting with not much success at first and discover the animals. The Elephant gets his trunk by being grasped on his nose by the crocodile, the leopard gets his spots, the armadillo gets his form from a hedgehog and turtle, the crab once huge, gets his small shape and the young girl invents the first letter. Kipling’s fun alternative explanations of evolution.
Some of the dialogue is hard to make out especially in the very echoing Unitarian Hall and perhaps the consonants of some of the actors can be made clearer but overall they work well together, clearly defining the different characters. In the fringe programme the play is listed under ‘theatre’ and under the ‘kids and youth’ section thus aiming at adult and children for their audience. There are some adults without children but mainly adults with children. Some of the children are very young but seem engrossed by the play which lasts about an hour. When the play finishes to good applause there is a question and answer question aimed at the young spectators and autographs are signed for them. If you have children do bring them along to the Unitarian Church or to the Kipling Festival in Rottingdean in July where the company will be performing the play again.