The Jungle Book, Theatre Review. Unity Theatre, Liverpool.

Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating 9/10

Joel Shipman as Baloo in The Jungle Book at The Unity Theatre, Liverpool. Photograph by Brian Roberts.

Cast: Fionnuala Dorrity, Asif Majid, Samuel Pérez Durán, Joe Shipman.

The tale of a lost boy raised by wolves, taught by a panther, guarded by a bear and hunted by the king of the jungle, it is story that speaks down through the last century and one that resonates with joy and charm, with meaning, still to this day. The Jungle Book, arguably one of the most loved pieces of literature of the late 19th Century has had its followers, those who bang the drum for its introduction of its well written characters into the national thought and understandably its detractors who see the book with a certain 21st Century outlook compared to its original sentiment.

The Jungle Book is so well loved by child and parent alike that it has spawned two international cinematic hits and the collected tales themselves still takes pride of place on many a bookshelf; it is also a generous, heart pleasing production by Action Transport Theatre which is impossible to not love and respect, to find yourself falling in love with.

The jungle might quake under the foot of Shere Khan the tiger, might bounce to the beat supplied by Baloo and by hypnotised by the eyes of Kaa, but the moral lessons set down with anthropomorphic animal conversations and lessons of life in the harshest conditions to man are what still set this piece of classic literature turned theatrical joy, apart, what makes it a piece of theatre that only the Unity Theatre could host with perfection.

With a cast of four, Fionnuala Dorrity, Asif Majid, Samuel Pérez Durán and Joe Shipman, portraying the various characters, from Mowgli to the carnivorous vultures, from the lolloping but loyal Baloo and the sight of the giant python, each part of the stage in the round is treated with respect, fun and dedication to showing both child and adult alike that the laws of the jungle are those that are deep rooted in society, that we should take care of those, not just in our immediate circle, but in the wider context of life as well.

We are not alone on this planet, we may be the most destructive of creatures, but we have the ability to make the planet we share a good place, if only we stopped to think, if we stopped to hear the words of others, rather than dismissing them because they don’t speak the same language.

Action Transport Theatre and The Unity Theatre have once more combined to make the Christmas show one of the most beautiful, one of the most endearing of the year’s artistic offerings, a play that speaks volumes about the way we still see the world and the place in which humanity sits at the heart of it

Ian D. Hall