Review: The Jungle Book at Oldham Coliseum – Kate Fielder

If you haven’t watched the film, you’ll no doubt know the songs and with such a big name comes high expectations.

Audiences have been eagerly awaiting the arrival of The Jungle Book at Oldham Coliseum after the pandemic put pay to its 2020 performance schedule.

So there’s huge excitement that Jessica Swale’s version of Rudyard Kipling’s classic has finally swung into town.

This contemporary musical version of the classic favorite children’s story brings a whole host of fun and talent onto the Coliseum stage.

READMORE:Review: Beauty and the Beast at Manchester’s Palace Theater

With puppets and funky costumes, musical instruments, singing and dancing, the show has everything. It is entertaining and funny and I may have even shed a little tear or two in parts. The main message throughout the show is we’re all in the same jungle, and it weaves a wonderful tale of acceptance and diversity.

It has a small but powerful cast, with only seven super talented actors playing all parts and entertaining the crowd magnificently.

My almost five-year-old niece, Darcie, barely took her eyes off the stage the entire time, she was so transfixed by the story being played out in front of her, and it wasn’t just the children who were lost in the story.

The cast of The Jungle Book at Oldham Coliseum

Baloo, played by Neil Hurst, is loveable in a haphazard, clumsy kind of way, but he and the elegant Bagheera, played with class by Sam Yetunde, are fiercely protective over Mowgli, their beloved man-cub.

Mowgli, played by Jason Patel, has no choice but to battle for survival, finding his place in the big bad world. He worries he can’t outsmart the ferocious and sneaky Shere Khan – played brilliantly by Gareth Morgan.

As the audience are taken on a journey with Mowgli and his friends, we see the story played out in a clever entertaining way.

It starts with a stunned Mowgli not wanting to accept who he is, and questioning the unfairness in the jungle, and then with some love and support from his pack, he realizes what he needs to do to live in peace with his friends.

The Jungle Book is a lovely tale, and the modern edge that Jessica Swale has injected into it is brilliant. There are parts that will make you laugh out loud, watch out for the arrival of the Funky Monkeys for example – they are just incredible!

Jason Patel as Mowgli
Jason Patel as Mowgli

It’s a story of love, loyalty and acceptance, but this stage show has a heavy dose of fun and sass added for good measure, making it the perfect family show.

After the last two years I think that overriding message to ‘look for the bare necessities’ of life strikes a chord more than ever before.

It may have been a long-time coming, but this production is most definitely worth the wait!

The Jungle Book is at Oldham Coliseum until April 24. For tickets, from £7, visit the website here.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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