Theatre review: The Concrete Jungle Book

Edinburgh Festival Fringe: The suspicion is that this loose adaptation of Rudyard Kipling's famous book started out as a clever title, but the transposition of old story and new setting works together well.

Zoo (Venue 124)


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The show is created by London’s HighRise Theatre – a group that seeks to work with excluded communities to create well-researched theatre pieces which give those groups an authentic voice through plays. It moves analogues of the Jungle Book characters to contemporary London, where homelessness and poverty mean they are struggling to survive.

Researched through interviews with migrants from war-torn African countries who have reached the UK through Calais, a lightness of storytelling touch from playwright Dominic Garfield cleverly blends Kipling’s original (a series of short morality tales written as political metaphors for colonial times) with the musical simplicity of Disney’s film remake.

By telling of Garfield’s lead character Mo (Mowgli) as he leaves the care of Fahad Shaft’s Bagheera after a fight and falls into the orbit of the fierce, bear-like Baloo (Joseph Barnes Phillips) and the sinister orangutan leader Louis Slippaz (Oliver Tunstall), this hip-hop musical uses raps which are more narrative than confrontational, delivering a sense of raw and honest reality.

Until today, 3:30pm.