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.
- Georgia Blake