Monday, 17 December 2018

Kipling’s urban jungle is Shere class

Picture a desolate inner city landscape, or “urban jungle”, into which have been implanted the creatures from Rudyard Kipling’s classic tale

Picture a desolate inner city landscape, or “urban jungle”, into which have been implanted the creatures from Rudyard Kipling’s classic tale.

Here we find beatboxing binman Baloo, a distinctive Mowgli dressed in red and the villain of the piece, gangsta rapper Shere Khan, along with Bagheera the graffiti artist, Kaa the snake, Vee the vulture, Akela the wolf and friends.

A minimalist stage, with beaten up street lights, changing background colours and a drum and bass soundtrack, fed into this set-up.

On the street, a pack of skateboarding wolves discover baby Mowgli, who has been separated from her mother, Messua, and protect her as one of their own.

My sons greatly enjoyed the enactment of the baby through the simple device of a puppeteered red snowsuit, gesturing and mimicking Akela’s movements.

However, Shere Khan is fast becoming a threat and the wolves and monkeys need to act.

Presented by Metta Theatre, this street dance production did seem to come as a surprise to some of the audience, but we were soon enjoying this modern adaptation, with its breakdancing moves, spoken word poetry, rapping and beatboxing.

Once we got the concept, we settled into the show and its circus acrobatics, skateboarding and bodypopping. My kids were bopping along as well.

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There were some seriously impressive balletic movements and often a great sense of fluidity and energy. Standout moments included Mowgli and Kaa, both individually and together, supporting their own body weight and seemingly defying gravity on poles, trapeze swings and giant hoops, with just the use of a neck, an arm or hooked feet.

Eventually, with the support of her friends, Mowgli finds her own voice and the courage to speak out.

In a week where Windsor is celebrating the Queen’s very special birthday, if you’re a fan of contemporary dance, this is one street party you won’t want to miss.

Jungle Book
Theatre Royal, Windsor
Until Saturday.

Review: Natalie Aldred

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