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 Hansel & Gretel by Warts & All at Delapré Abbey, Northampton

For those unfamiliar with Kneehigh Theatre (from where this show originally comes), the best way of explaining them is that they do traditional things, differently. This performance by Warts and All Theatre of their adaptation of the classic tale of Hansel & Gretel tells you much of what you need to know early on as a (human) rabbit is pinned down upon a table and skinned (half their costume removed). It is just one of an evening of wacky and quite brilliant moments as this production sours mostly for the sky of brilliance.

Handed to a cast of young performers, the result is often disturbingly professional. Sure it is still rough around the edges at times, but perhaps this helps the material. It doesn't actually matter if there is sparring from the cast with the audience, knowing looks and playfulness. It doesn't matter if one of the cast nearly knocks the cymbal of the musicians flying, perhaps it would have been even better if they had, this is anachic fun at its very b…

Review of Great Expectations by The Royal & Derngate Actors Company at Royal & Derngate (Royal), Northampton

Market Boy from The Actors Company last year was a remarkable show and is likely to stay with me for a long time, so following it with this year's production was always going to be a tough call and with their production of the epic Dickens classic Great Expectations, they at least didn't lack ambition.

I have to be honest, things for me didn't start well. The first few minutes of this adaptation by Declan Donnellan and Nick Ormerod is a busy and convoluted sequence moving the opening part of the story in an unclear and often irritating way. For those present not aware of the original story, I wouldn't envy them trying to keep up with what is going on. However much of the trouble of this opening sequence is quickly corrected as scenes become more defined and controlled and the story is allowed to develop at a slower pace.

Perhaps also in the early part, it doesn't help either that the gender-swapped Magwitch played by Salli Bersham is a little too full on with the o…

Review of Once Upon A Grimm Tale by The Royal & Derngate Actors Company (Early) at Judge's Lodgings, Northampton

Once upon a time, there was a brave theatrical reviewer. He lived in a market town in deepest darkest Englaland, where many great and remarkable things of stage did occur. At the centre of this wondrous world of performing spectacles was a place referred to by many as the Royal Derngatus, a place of people pretending to be other people and telling tales of mystery, intrigue and frolics.

Within the fortressed walls of Royal Derngatus, there were a group of fearless players who entertained local folk for no reward, other than the thrill of seeing the joy in the faces of others. Those group of artists went by the name of Actors Companus, which many pronounced carefully when they did say it out loud. This group of merry men and women did have two forms, an early and a late, and but two days before this adventurous evening of forthcoming storytelling, the late group did perform for a third and final time a most amazing feat of theatre, going by the name of Great Expectations.


Our hero of thi…