Just So is a musical by George Stiles and Anthony Drew, based on Rudyard Kipling’s fantastical creation myths. It follows the Elephant’s Child and the Kolokolo Bird as they voyage across Africa to the great, green, greasy Limpopo River to stop The Crab That Played With The Sea from wreaking havoc with the tides. Along the way they meet a host of other animals and discover how they came to be as they are.
All the African animals have broad, British regional accents, which produce a few laughs but certainly removes the exoticism and mystery from Kipling’s stories. However, Lisa Baird’s tough Scottish Kolokolo Bird is a nice foil for Lee Greenaway’s inquisitive, northern Elephant’s Child.
Designer Christopher Hone’s set makes for some interesting, split level staging and choreographer Phyllida Crowley-Smith uses the small space well. "Living on This Island", performed by The Parsee Man (played with perfect timing by a deliciously camp Thomas Lloyd) and his deadpan Cooking Stove (Lewis Barnshaw), is the high point of the show. "The Parsee-Cake Walk" is well choreographed and showcases the talented, well rehearsed ensemble.
However, although there are some catchy numbers, the music is generally unexciting; many of the lyrics are dubiously rhymed and unbearably twee. Kolokolo Bird complains that she "can’t stand this moralising". I know how she feels.
I think young children will enjoy this, and there is enough gentle humour for their parents to enjoy too. However, this is just so-so.