Thursday 3 May 2018

The Jungle Book Family Theatre Review at The Lowry, Manchester

Last night we were guests of the The Lowry to review the opening night of The Jungle Book, which will be playing until this Sunday 6th May - so you still have time to book! Presented by the Children’s Touring Partnership and Royal & Derngate, this adaptation of Rudyard Kipling's 1894 classic children's Jungle Book tales was excellent, we all thoroughly enjoyed it.

The performance is a musical, with lots of singing and dancing, including several numbers with a large ensemble cast. The actors also played accompanying instruments, all while climbing around on a huge rotating set. It was loud, bold, but also very funny, with lots of laugh aloud moments for the whole audience. Baloo particularly was the lighter relief, he was very sweet and made my boys laugh and grin all the way through.

There are of course more serious sides to The Jungle Book. This isn't the Disney movie, this is more true to the original and the wild animal characters do behave as wild animals. There is death and peril and loss, but it's dealt with sensitively and shouldn't upset children. My 8 year old was actually really disturbed by seeing the wolves 'eyes' lit up in the background towards the end - I think that's personal to him though, his brother didn't think anything of it.

Mowgli was excellent. The way Mowgli 'grew up' from a baby was very well done, very clear and the actor who played him was brilliant. I had wondered how well it would work, but she was great and very believable. She also had a fantastic singing voice and I don't think put a foot wrong despite clambering over the ladders and framework of the jungle trees all night.

The set was fantastic. In a still image it's hard to appreciate, but all of the ladders and platforms offset from centre on a turntable allowed the cast to hide, appear and move about as if they really did have a whole jungle to explore, and it was a world apart from a traditional fake palm tree or three. Lighting was used to good effect to darken the background and it came into it's own whenever Shere Khan appeared.

Costumes were not intended to look as 'real life', but they were clear and distinctive. Shere Khan wins the award for best dressed in his black and glittery orange tiger striped motorbike gear, with Khan emblazoned across his shoulders. Close second was the beautiful Bagheera, channelling Eartha Kitt in sultry black. Even Kaa was excellent - although there isn't any chance for walking when dressed as a 20ft bright green python...

Although it is funny, this performance has a suggested age rating of 6+ and I agree. It was loud and brash, and too much for some of the younger audience. There were several grown ups who had to remove young children right from the start, so I would consider carefully if you have toddlers or pre-school children, as it may be best to find someone else to watch them. Other than some young children, this is a fantastic performance that the whole family should really enjoy.

The running time is 2 hours 15 minutes with an interval - if you are back to your seat promptly you'll be treated to an additional 5 minutes with Baloo. The remaining showings are:

Thursday 3rd May 1.30pm/7pm / Friday 4th May 7pm
Saturday 5th May 2pm (CC)/7pm / Sunday 6th May 2pm

Tickets to see The Jungle Book are still available for all dates and times. To find out more and to book, take a look at The Lowry website, ring 0843 208 6000 or call in person at the Box Office.

Before I go!
Are you a keen young dancer in the Northwest? The Lowry are home to North West Dance, who are on the lookout for fresh young dance talent and have FREE regional open days when you can go and find out more!

We attended as guests to review.

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