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The Jungle Book : Classic tale gets a modern remake

Keziah Joseph as Mowgli and the company of The Jungle Book. Photograph: Manuel Harlan
Keziah Joseph as Mowgli and the company of The Jungle Book. Photograph: Manuel Harlan

The classic children’s story The Jungle Book has been re-imagined with a new score and script for a production that comes to Nottingham next week.

It will staged at the Theatre Royal from Tuesday, April 17 to Saturday, April 21.

It is suitable for those aged six and over.

Written in 1894, The Jungle Book tells of Mowgli the man cub, who battles for survival in a coming-of-age story about a boy raised by wolves in the jungle.

With the help of his animal friends, including Bagheera the panther, Balloo the bear and Kaa the python, Mowgli outwits the cruel and powerful tiger, Shere Khan, and learns the law of the jungle.

The new adaptation has been written by playwright Jessica Swale.

She said: “I hadn’t read the book since I was a child, so It was exciting to return to it and consider how it might still be relevant to a contemporary audience.

“Culturally, we associate The Jungle Book with Disney but, of course, it is Rudyard Kipling’s book that is the original. So I went back to the source material and found a treasure trove of characters in Kipling’s poetic prose.

“The challenge was to find a modern voice for it — especially in its politics.

“I wanted to refocus the tale to celebrate diversity — to talk about the challenge of growing up in a place where you may feel you don’t belong, and how we negotiate that.

“I loved the characters as Kipling wrote them, but wanted to find new voices which resonate now — funny, bright, dynamic voices, with a little more wit, and greater diversity, in terms of place, tone, gender and culture.

“It is a funny, heart-filled roller coaster of a journey which, I hope, will transport the audience right round the world and back again.”

Director Max Webster, who was responsible for Dr Seuss’s The Lorax at the Old Vic, said: “We wanted to take the story everyone knows and loves, and make it modern, playful, upbeat and to make it resonate with today’s audiences.”

Internationally-renowned songwriter Joe Stilgoe is responsible for the new score.

Mowgli is played by Keziah Joseph. The rest of the cast includes Rachel Dawson (Kaa Grey) Lloyd Gorman (Shere Khan) TJ Holmes (Hiran) Avita Jay (Raksha) Dyfrig Morris (Balloo) Deborah Oyelade (Bagheera) and Tripti Tripuraneni (Akala).

The production is a joint effort between Children’s Touring Partnership and the Royal and Derngate, Northampton.

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