The Jungle Book

25 December 2023

Jungle Book

Rudyard Kipling’s beloved tale of family, belonging and identity has been reimagined in this acclaimed adaptation by Jessica Swale, with original songs by Joe Stilgoe. 

The Jungle Book tells the story of Mowgli, the man-cub who is raised by wolves. With a little help from his animal friends – including Bagheera the panther, Baloo the bear, and Kaa the python – he must face the cruel and powerful tiger, Shere Khan, and learn the Law of the Jungle.

This musical adaptation is packed with memorable characters, catchy songs and brilliant storytelling, offering rich opportunities for all school, college, youth-theatre and amateur groups looking for a ‘fresh, ambitious and inventive’ (The Times) version of a much-loved classic.

Review by Noda

Society: St Peter Players
Production: Jungle Book
Date: 10th December 2023
Report By: Judith Watsham

View our photo gallery of this production.

Thank you for inviting me along to your winter production, an adaptation of Kipling’s The Jungle Book.

Thank you too for the usual warm welcome from Director Ruth Corner.  It was lovely to see so many enthusiastic members of the audience, happily seated at tables.  Bit of a shame that one person seemed to think it was a pantomime and booed the villain (Shere Khan) and cheered the ‘goodies’.  My granddaughter who accompanied me said it spoilt it for her as the lady concerned was just behind her and drowned out some dialogue.  But there, you can’t help your audience can you!

Ruth’s direction was sure and worked well on your small stage and your MD, Adrian Sutcliffe, I know, had worked on a one to one basis with some of the principals to get the most out of the songs,.  The result was an entertaining show which was fairly true to the original story.

The set was very good and inventive thanks to the imagination, not only of Ruth but also of Tina Barclay and Jenny Evans.  Leafy/florally tabs and some camo netting both worked well as did the backdrop and flats.  The rocks were very effective in recreating Council Rock.  Well done to the set construction crew and Stage Manager Annie Hagger for managing the changes well.  Annie, I saw from the programme that you even made a brief appearance as a villager!

Liz Peskin and Ruth worked wonders with the costumes which were very inventive and left the audience in no doubt about the identities of the animals concerned.  Kaa the snake was especially effective and the three actresses who played the long slithery creature (Matilda Patterson, Sarah Jamieson and Melanie Adkins) moved well together. 

Ryan McLuskey was on sound but I thought at times the balance between some of the vocals and the keyboard accompaniment was a tad ‘out’ in that the keyboard overpowered some of the voices.

Les Brewer’s lighting was effective at all times.

The animal make up was well designed and credited to ‘The Cast’ so I assume you all did your own?  Did this include Shere Khan’s which was the most elaborate and effective and accentuated his permanent scowl brilliantly?

Many of your cast, of course, played two roles, perhaps as a wolf cub one minute, monkey or Kaa the next, and all of you developed moves and expressions which matched each role well.

As Mowgli Amelia Savage was delightful, with very clear diction and good facial expressions and moves which contributed well to her charactisation.

Baloo was well played by Jason Congerton with just the right amount of bravado and lumbering diffidence required by this character.  Jason was also responsible for the delightful jungle-themed programme.  Do enter it for the London Programme Awards – the closing date is fairly soon for next June’s presentation, so don’t delay.  Details on the NODA London website.

Bagheera – the caring, but outwardly grumpy panther – was believably portrayed by Tamsin Grayling.

Shere Khan, Finn Toomey, menacing, strutting, threatening, generally scary!  An excellent performance Finn; for my young companion, at least, you stole the show!

Yvonne Tobutt was one who not only doubled but trebled her animal characters, fluttering Chil, a nervous deer and a water buffalo avoiding capture by the hunting wolf pack. 

Tina Barclay’s Akela was the embodiment of wise tribe elder and contrasted beautifully with her mischievous monkey character, Twitster, who dared to find a banana behind my collar!

As Mowgli’s adopted wolf parents, Raksha and Hiran, Kate Patterson and Peter Heaps developed their characters well, which were maintained all the time.

I know that the small role of Mowgli’s mother was double cast due to the fact that Wendy Graham was not always available to play the role so Liz Peskin took it on at the performance I saw.  A lovely, worried, caring facial expression Liz.

Everyone involved with this one seems to have immersed themselves in their assorted roles and you all added greatly to The Players’ interpretation of this well known story.  The author has brought it up to date by accentuating the need for acceptance of mankind’s differences and you all managed to bring this aspect out well.  Congratulations to everyone involved.

Thank you again and my best wishes for Christmas and the New Year to you all.

Judith Watsham

District 11 and 11A Rep NODA London