For those looking for the classic Rudyard Kipling story or lighthearted Disney tale, this version of The Jungle Book might not be for you.
The Watermill Theatre brings a progressive 21st century story to Newbury which introduces modern social concepts such as gender neutral pronouns to young children in a warm and friendly way.
The themes of identity and self-acceptance are heavily highlighted in Tom Jackson Greaves direction/adaption of the play, bringing a fresh twist on a familiar family favourite. The Watermill hasn't shoehorned in these 21st century ideas, but cleverly found a story that already has the ideas buried deep within it, carefully dug them up and beautifully presented them to us.
If your little one is too young to grasp these concepts then they will still be delighted with the beautifully textured and colourful costumes along with the simple yet effective set.
Dom Coyote’s music is both moving and catchy, and teamed with the engaging contemporary choreography, this makes for a visual and audible feast. Each performer doubles as a musician, possessing more talent than is fathomable.
Karishma Young as the vulnerable and curious Mowgli, dances beautifully and portrays every emotion lost little Mowgli experiences without uttering a word. The contemporary choreography is visceral and dynamic despite being confined on the small stage.
The cast are low in numbers but not in energy with the mighty Baloo the Bear and Bagheera the Panther protecting Mowgli and the rest of the jungle against the evil Tiger Shere Khan. Rowena Lennon as Baloo and Philippa Hogg as Bagheera bring the inclusivity and accessibility in abundance as Mowgli’s parents, a relationship apparently not understood by the rest of the jungle.
This production is a wonderfully aesthetically pleasing version of the well-loved tale with heavy doses of inclusivity and accessibility for good measure. A great conversation starter for younger minds as well as an entertaining evening out.