by Michael Morpugo, adapted by Samuel Adamson
Hackney Empire, until 25 March (touring nationally until 10 June)
Runs 140 mins, including interval.
Michael Morpugo’s original story is a passionate declaration of fundamental love and loyalty to the natural world and its animal inhabitants, derived originally from his childhood reading of Kipling’s The Jungle Book.
It was written as a kind of surrender on Morpugo’s part to these inner pressures, and this staged version takes a further step in the same direction.
So we find ourselves amongst humans who exploit animals with a clear conscience and some children who identify with the animals and try to live alongside them.
The stars of the performance are really the puppeteers and the puppets themselves.
Elephant, tiger and ape move convincingly and show character traits of their own. The human stories which run in tandem and in contrast with the lives of the animals are fairly conventional, but taken in tandem the two groups of creatures on earth live together in ways which are interesting and which support Morpugo’s central conviction, that we should live with animals rather than at their expense.
Keep an eye out for this show as it continues its national tour.
Directors: Timothy Sheader and Dale Rooks
Set and Costumes: Paul Wills
Puppetry: Finn Caldwell and Toby Ollie
Lighting: James Whiteside
Music: Rod Paton, Nick Powell and Louise Anna Duggan
The Acting Ensemble: Jemima Bennett, India Brown, Annika Whiston, Elisa de Grey, James Charlton, Michael Peters, Wela Mbusi, Romina Hytten, Fred Davis, Darcy Collins, Gareth Aldred, Scarlet Wilderink, Kazeem Tosin Amore, Liz Crowther, Stephen Hoo, Corinna Powelsland, Jack Sandle, Balvinder Sopal