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  • Writer's pictureSTEVE COOKE AATA


Updated: Apr 27, 2022

Review by Steve Cooke

The Oldham Coliseum theatre is the perfect venue for family theatre, supported by the welcoming friendly staff it is great experience for young and old from start to finish.

This Easter production of The Jungle Book is the first family show the Coliseum has produced outside of the festive season for over a decade.

The show is warmly received by the youngsters and their grown-ups in the audience, many of whom are regulars at the Coliseum’s excellent Pantomimes but also some who are experiencing live theatre for the first, and I am confident not the last time!

This production is a Covid-19 survivor as Director, Sarah Punshon began working on it back in 2019, but the pandemic halted the production just 6 days into rehearsal. Thankfully the hard work hasn’t gone to waste and the energy on display demonstrates how pleased the cast is to be back on stage.

The Jungle Book, Rudyard Kipling’s collection of short stories, has captured the imagination of children for more since publication in 1895 Many believe Kipling took his inspiration from the life of Dina Sanicher who 20 years before had been captured living among a pack of wolves.

Alongside many lavishly illustrated publications its best know adaptations are the 1967 Disney animation, and the more recent 2016 film which mixes live action and computer-generated animals.

To this adaptation writer, Jessica Swale has given a contemporary twist for the stage She focuses on the central themes of Kipling’s original stories of family, friendship, bravery and a celebration of difference under the same sun.

The wonderfully versatile cast of seven expertly switch from one character aided by costumes which give representation of the animals rather than a full costume.

[Tamara Verhoven Clyde – Akala / Kaa / Leela, Ebony Feare -Raksha, Neil Hurst – Baloo, Gareth Morgan – Shere Khan, Jason Patel – Mowgli, Tarak Slater – Hiran / Mugger, Sam Yetunde – Bagheera.]

They keep the energy high, and inspire the imagination of the audience so that we are invested in the action all the way through.

Joe Stilgoe’s highly engaging tunes span a range of contemporary genres from ambient through Madchester to hip-hop. The Manc theme hilariously portrayed by monkeys, nicknamed the Funkies, taking on a definite Gallagher swagger underlined by plenty of Manc-speak.

A real treat for Easter, with fewer calories than chocolate eggs!

On until Sunday 24 April

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