The Jungle Book
  • By Kate B
  • |
  • 12th Jun 2019
  • |
  • ★★★★

We lucked out! On the day we saw The Jungle Book, the sun was high in the sky. The weather was stunning (and hot almost to the point of being oppressive) but that’s the gamble you have to take when booking in at the BOAT. It’s an elemental experience, much like being on the high seas, or in the Asian jungle.

The performers’ energy was electric

Marching along singing the tune of Colonel Hathi’s March transforms a pleasant stroll through the lush gardens of Dyke Road Park to more of a purposeful stomp to the wonderful BOAT.

Brighton’s Open Air Theatre is the UK’s newest amphitheatre, built in a classical style, although its huge wooden joists evoke a seafaring vessel submerged in the green landscape. BOAT was the brainchild and legacy of Adrian Bunting who wanted the audience to feel part of the show, and this was the perfect venue for an immersive production of The Jungle Book.

More reliable than the weather is a JW Productions show: as ever, it was great fun, action packed and totally original. Even without the highly-loved, ever familiar, foot tapping classics of the 1967 movie, their production of The Jungle Book was a pleasure, particularly for the pint-sized punter.

In the round, with animal characters emerging from all angles, it was thrilling to feel immersed in the sights and sounds of the jungle. Keeping most costumes subtle kept the fear of the tiger at bay; there were no pantomime predators here. Shere Khan growled his way into character, dressed as a Victorian explorer with only a simple striped trim. If this was a comment on the dangers of mankind, it was a point made without a moralistic sledgehammer. King Louie, King of the Swingers looked remarkably like the King of the Pelvic Swing, donning Elvis’s quiff and a suit of white and gold.

All the performers’ energy was electric, although our highlight was undoubtedly the performing monkeys, wolves and village children all part of an acting troupe with star quality. Their singing, dancing and acting in each of their guises was entrancing, especially for the youngest audience members who were enthralled. When the kids sang together the sound was pitch perfect. Our only gripe was the lack of amplified sound as the original songs deserved to be heard without straining.

As an aficionado of the Walt Disney classic, did I detect a nod to the Emperor Tamarin monkey who appears to tease King Louie during I Wanna Be Like You? Details like that ensured each generation of the audience disembarks from the BOAT very happy indeed.

Reviews by Kate B

Theatre Royal Brighton

Tom Gates Live on Stage!

★★★★
Brighton Open Air Theatre (BOAT)

The Jungle Book

★★★★
Komedia Brighton

Out Of The Hat

★★★★
The Warren: Studio 2

The Lighthouse Keeper's Lunch

★★★★

Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
Donate to Mama Biashara now

Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Donate to Theatre MAD now

Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £600,000 to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
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Performances

Location

The Blurb

Mowgli swings from one wild adventure to another with his friends Baloo the Bear and Bagheera the Panther as he learns the law of the Jungle. Danger is never far away; Shere Khan the Tiger is on the prowl... Picnics welcome, but beware of those pesky monkeys - they'll eat anything! From the makers of 'Wind in The Willows' 2017, 'Swallows & Amazons' 2018, 'Peter Pan' 2018, 'The Adventures of Robin Hood' 2018 and 'The Amazing Adventures of Pinocchio' 2017. "Outstanding, what family theatre should be!" (Fringe Review)

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