Rudyard Kipling’s Just So Stories are fanciful tales that will delight. This production adds songs and puppetry to flesh out these stories but, although it is fun, it does not add any wonder to the stories themselves.
The tales include how the elephant got his long trunk, why the whale only eats small things, and how the camel got his hump. They are entertaining stories and all the performers seem to have a lot of fun with the material, leaping around stage and using simple but effective props that recreate the feeling of a bedtime story. As such, everyday objects such as bed sheets were transformed into a whale’s belly, or umbrellas were used to create a jungle. The two children to whose father told the stories to showed the amazement in their faces as their imagination ran wild. However, their facial expressions were often exaggerated and were too over the top. This was a problem throughout for a lot of the characters and it seemed unnecessary, as though they felt the need to tell the audience how exciting the stories were, when actually they were interesting enough on their own.
The songs were also a let-down, with none of them being particularly memorable or adding anything to the stories. The stories worked adequately without singing, and would have been much more enjoyable simply with the accompanying music creating these fantasy worlds. Although there were some good soloists, particularly in the final song and it was entertaining starting the show with the performers singing with ukuleles, recorders and shakers, the songs themselves were not strong enough to hold the attention of the audience. It is a shame, as the background music did add to the spectacle - particularly when percussion was used for various sound effects.
Overall, this production will entertain, but this is mainly due to the content of the stories themselves. The sets and background music successfully conjure up some beautiful bedtime stories, but overacting and unnecessary songs make it feel like one would have had just as much fun having someone read the stories to you directly.