The Jungle Referendum

The Jungle Referendum, by Three Mugs of Tea Theatre, invokes the classic tale of the Jungle Book to explain what’s going on with the Scottish referendum.

While amusing in parts, the play lacked sophistication and despite attempting to draw a parallel between the jungle and the referendum, it isn’t clear what it’s trying to say.

Not quite political theatre and not quite satire, the play uses the characters of Mowgli, his wolf parents, and the chattering monkeys in an attempt to express the confusion and complacency of potential voters.

The show begins with three actors planted in the audience, which is both obvious and unnecessary. Once they take to the stage and begin an opening song and dance routine the show picks up pace.

The performers are enthusiastic and work well together, but their Brechtian attempts have touches of high school drama class to them: too often they break character to address the audience or each other as themselves, which, far from being avant-garde, unfortunately slows down the play. All are good singers, though the lyrics tend to be simplistic (but entertaining nonetheless).

The skimpy plot involves Mowgli learning about the political situation from his adopted father and then journeying high into the trees to meet the powerful monkey people.

David Cameron and Alex Salmond are cast as a monkey and tiger, respectively: one arguing for togetherness and one for independence. Not being from the UK myself, I was interested by the debate discussing the impact the Scottish referendum would have on currency, university fees, and defence – although if I had already been aware of these facts I would have found this expositional section far too heavy handed.

The chattering and howling of monkeys and wolves and a schoolyard fight scene provided an amusing comment on the Parliament, although I thought the staging could have been sharpened at time and found the set - some painted boxes and a window frame - a little clumsy.

While amusing in parts, the play lacked sophistication and despite attempting to draw a parallel between the jungle and the referendum, it isn’t clear what it’s trying to say. 

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The Blurb

Let us take you into the Jungle, where Mowgli lives with Father and Mother Wolf who opens her eyes for the first time to the world of politics and the upcoming vote in Scotland. Mowgli travels around the jungle searching for some answers and meets David Cameron and the monkeys and Alex Salmond the tiger - independence or better together? With the two opposing sides in a playground brawl, how can she possibly make up her mind? Featuring song, poetry and Scottish jig, Mowgli welcomes you to her journey to discover the truth about the Scottish Referendum.