Jungle Book reimagined is set in the future, where the impact of climate change floods has humans leaving the cities for higher ground. Mowgli, a climate refugee, is lost to the waters and saved by the animals who have now claimed the city, the human concrete jungle, as their own. A hunter is killing off her new animal family as Mowgli learns to adapt. The story follows much of the familiar plot with familiar characters – Baloo (a former dancing bear), Bagera and Kaa (former zoo inhabitants), and the monkeys (former lab experiments). The choice to make the animals not wild but from human captivity labs, zoos, etc. is really impactful.

©Ambra Vernuccio

Video and projection design by YeastCulture gives us beautiful animations to show flashbacks of Mowgli’s life and changes of setting, as well as bigger and smaller animals (e.g. elephants and rats) to allow for a range of animal characters not being played by humans. The line drawings are often transparent, allowing for front and back projections. The ensemble is superbly able to emulate the essence of the animals: wolves to monkeys to elephants. Their movements are so familiar and the characters so clear. 

Through the use of voiceovers we hear the animals converse and move the story along, making it really accessible to those who may find pure dance hard to interpret. The story is familiar enough, with lovely humour throughout, this is definitely a family-friendly production that young and old would enjoy alike. 

©Ambra Vernuccio

Bagheera, played by Holly Vallis, is glorious. Vallis is impressively cat-like with their fingers curled under to create paws and beautiful extensions like cats stretching. They are elegant and powerful. Baloo, played by Tom Davis-Dunn, is utterly charming. He is able to give a weighted energy when upright, making himself seem larger, and yet has a lightness and playfulness in his movements. Kaa the great python, is created through boxes being moved by the ensemble in an almost puppet-like creation. It is fabulous! The movement of the individual boxes allows for the snake-like movements across the stage. Absolutely inspired choice! 

The storytelling is beautiful, the choreography powerful, and the animation utterly charming. Jungle Book reimagined is a triumph! 

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Akram Khan’s Jungle Book reimagined is on an international tour; you can find more info here.

{🎟 AD – PR invite – Tickets were gifted in exchange for an honest review}

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