Skip to main content

Review of The Jungle Book at the Looking Glass Theatre, Northampton

Its safe to say that I was probably missing the target audience for The Jungle Book by thirty odd years and going was more a plan of returning to the lovely little Looking Glass Theatre as much as attending a puppet come pantomine come kiddies entertainment show.

Having said that, The Jungle Book was one of my favourite stories when I was little (under five foot) and it was going to be interesting to see another spin on the classic Kipling tale. This performance was a sort of interactive Jackanory and the juniors certainly interacted. Especially once the puppets had arrived that's for certain, hanging from the poor puppets limbs on more than a few occasions. It was great to see them getting involved so much.

Our storytellers came in the form of purveyor of corny jokes and pirate fan David Heathcote and bespectacled librarian Leigh Souter-Smith. Until this production Leigh Souter-Smith for me had been provider of tea, marshmallow filled chocolate and when required coffee as front of house of the Looking Glass, so it was a delight to see a bit of thesp activity. And great form she was too as the sensible part of the duo of library staff and later explorer and reader of Mowgli's diary. David Heathcote in turn was a surprise as, until I was advised later, I had seen him at the Looking Glass previously. Such was his performance so different, I certainly didn't see the same shouty RSM of Killed (review here). A credit therefore to his performance.

The final human actor on stage came in the form of Brianna Souter-Smith as Mowgli. As one of the young boys in the audience cried "It's a girl!" upon her appearance, however it did not matter as she was a delight interacting with all the animals of the forest (I shall get to them in a bit) and coped well with the continued interaction of the crowd, particular one little girl who was literally everywhere enjoying the show.

So onto the animals, the wonderful puppets. You have to be a hard, boring old soul if you can't find endless amusement from silly looking, floppy, arm flailing, puppets. And hopefully I don't fall into that catagory as I found them hysterical. Whether they be telling the tale, or have a random child hanging off them, they provided endless amusement. My favourite would have to be the Animal-esque monkey and its long spindly arms. I could have been looking in the mirror.

The shadow puppetry on screen was also very clever and entertaining, as was the disembodied mask on the screen telling the tale. I think a couple of the little ones found this a tad creepy, but it was never too scary. Also the set was lovely and detailed, from a little library set to the bonfire and plenty of little nooks and crannies for the animals to appear from.

So, yes, it wasn't really a play for a late thirties man. However I enjoyed it all the same and quite clearly could see that the target audience really did enjoy it. If you have a five, six or seven year old-ish to amuse for a couple of hours, you will find no better value than going to see this little bit of fun.


Performance reviewed: The matinee on Wednesday 30th July 2014 at the Looking Glass Theatre, Northampton. 

The Jungle Book is on at the Looking Glass Theatre, Northampton until Saturday 9th August, 2014. Details can be found at: http://www.lookingglasstheatre.co.uk/

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Review of This Evil Thing at Royal & Derngate (Royal), Northampton

This Evil Thing written and performed by Michael Mears isn't my first encounter with a play about conscientious objectors, however, it absolutely is the most detailed in its explanation of the subject. A clear and absolute labour of love from Michael Mears, and an obviously very personal thing for him, it leaves the audience pretty much in its grip for the whole of its 80 minutes.

Almost uniquely, our performer Michael Mears is in the theatre stalls upon entry, observing the arrival of the audience and indeed exchanging conversation at times. It's fascinating to see a performer not only there, but seemingly so relaxed pre-show and as he bounds on the stage at show start, this little nugget proves intriguing in itself.

Michael Mears is a captivating presence on stage, as previously experienced on the same stage in A Tale Of Two Cities and The Herbal Bed, therefore it comes as little surprise that he has a confident ability to make a one-man show work, and so well. With the use …

Review of Balm in Gilead, University of Northampton BA Acting (Creative Acting) at Maidwell Hall, Northampton

Watching the production of Balm in Gilead sees my entering the fifth year of following the University of Northampton acting students, and what theatre they have provided over the years!

Balm in Gilead is no less intriguing than anything that has gone before, written in 1965 by Lanford Wilson, you might think this would be a dated item for the young students to be performing, however, nothing could be further from the truth. Set in a cafe (transposed to England from its original American setting), it sees the lives of addicts, homeless and sex workers converge into a mixture of good but mostly bad moments.
My first time in the Maidwell Hall saw an encounter with a brilliantly realised community full of the world of the cafe and the surrounding homes, cardboard boxes and dishevelled beds. As we enter the characters of this world begin living alongside us, addressing us, begging us for money, pushing shopping trolleys around offering off the cuff exchanges with the audience and confronti…

Review of Bombshell by Contact Light Theatre at The Playhouse Theatre, Northampton

Warning: This review contains spoilers

Whether it is an overwhelming success or mostly a failure, I have over the years grown a huge affinity for fresh new work on the stage. The need to regurgitate and rework old pieces continuously may well get easy bums on seats, but at the end of the night, it has no doubt pleased a few but it hasn't really made any future impact on theatre of the future. Presenting a new play and new work, however, who knows what it might have seeded in the years to come?

Therefore as I watched Bombshell, not only a new play, but also the first offering from a new theatre company, I was thrilled that first of all, it leaned much more towards the success line, and also that over half filling the theatre, it had also put quite a few of the bums on seats as well.

Curiously I have recently read Festen by David Eldridge, and while Bombshell goes much its own way, I felt early on, I (and perhaps others in the audience), felt I had a distinct advantage over some of …