jungle head 

The Jungle Book

Malvern Theatres

****

METTA Theatre brings Kipling’s classic tale crashing into the 21st Century with breath taking street dance, circus, skateboards and spoken word.

This adaptation of the Jungle book (1894) a collection of stories by Rudyard Kipling. Is told over two gripping acts in 10 astonishing scenes.

Metta are a London-based theatre company founded in 2005 by director Poppy Burton-Morgan and designer William Reynolds. They have made a beautiful, imaginative and compelling story set in an urban jungle of street lamps and populated by a diverse mix of recognisably human animal characters.

Exploring what it means to find your place within the many ethnic/social/class-based tribes that make up society in multi-cultural Britain using an extraordinary cast made up of seven Shere Khanprofessionals.

Metta rewrote this classic story to give it a young female protagonist as they often do in their stories seen from a female perspective.

A girl Mowgli (Natalie Nicole James) a suit child is raised by wolves on the streets. The skateboarding wolf crew led by Akela (Matt Knight) and his girlfriend Raksha (Ellen Wolf) with the help of Baloo (Stefan Puxon), the beat loving bin man bear and Bagheera (Kloe Dean) the graffiti artist panther.

Shere Khan (Dean Stewart) ‘The Tiger’ a known criminal to the Police who sees himself as the rightful lord of the jungle having vowed one day to kill the young girl after her acceptance into the pack.

Dean Stewart as bad boy Shere Khan 

The story begins in an extraordinary scene using a life size puppet of baby Mowgli, (the puppeteer makes you believe she is alive and real) we rewind 13 years to see the moment when Mowgli is separated from her mother Messua.

Baloo and Bagheera become Mowgli’s teachers instructing her in the law of the streets learning the Masterwords of the different animal tribes so that she can communicate with any group within the urban jungle.

However Mowgli is abducted by the Bandar-log, a tribe of scatter-brained, anarchy monkeys, who abide by no laws, neither of the streets nor of the suits. So Baloo and Bagheera set out to rescue her with the aid of Kaa the python who is feared throughout the jungle for her mesmerising ‘hunger dance’ excellently performed on a pole by Nathalie Alison.

At one point Mowgli returns to the Suits and is adopted by Messua, wife of one of the richest suit men, but she has trouble adjusting to this life. Mowgli is quickly warned of a new album poster warning from Gangster rapper Shere Khan, a threat he is back on the hunt with an appetite for destruction. But before the chase begins Vee the vulture (Nathalie Alison) a young homeless girl and Mowgli perform enchanting aerial acrobatics.

As well as telling the well-loved story of Mowgli and her quest through the urban jungle, on her search for identity and belonging, this vision also is a celebration of art and the power of artistic expression to transform lives, but never forgetting the threat of Shere khan grows ever nearer. To Saturday 07-05-16

Johnathan Gray

O3-05-16 

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