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REVIEW: AKRAM KHAN’S JUNGLE BOOK REIMAGINED

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If you come to see Akram Khan’s ‘Jungle Book Reimagined’ at the Curve this weekend, don’t make the mistake of thinking it’s going to be in any way similar to Disney’s version of the beloved family classic… Sombre, sobering and profound, this is something incredibly different…

In Akram Khan’s brand new dance-theatre production, based on the original story of Rudyard Kipling’s much loved family classic, Akram and his team reinvent the journey of Mowgli through the eyes of a climate refugee.

Picture: Ambra Vernuccio

After being washed away, the character of Mowgli (a girl in this case), finds herself in the company of various jungle animals, which are played by ten international, and very talented dancers.

The dancers embody the spirit of the animals through incredible, and often mind boggling movements, which are executed skilfully on stage, without the need for heavy make-up or aesthetics. We know from their movements, that they are a dog, monkey, panther or bear without the need for it having to be spelt out, and that is all down to their talent, and the power of their movement.

The production is relatively minimalistic throughout – striking but simplistic, in order to allow the story to be told through the medium of dance.

Complete with an intense, and brooding symphonic score, the general tone of the piece is dark and quite sombre, with only a few moments of light relief peppered throughout.

These come mainly via stabs of humour from the beloved ‘Baloo’ the bear character, who stands out among the dancers, with his tall stature and thick Serbian accent.

Picture: Ambra Vernuccio

If you come to this production looking for a light-hearted bit of fun and entertainment, I’m afraid that you’ve definitely come to the wrong place.

This is a tale about the brutality of man, and the failures of the human race. But it’s also one about our intrinsic need to belong and bond with others.

It places the importance of connecting with and respecting our natural world at its heart, and is definitely something quite profound, heavy and thought-provoking.

Although the ending was somewhat triumphant, I left with a sense of sadness, but also with the sense that I’d seen something quite sobering and important – something with a deep message, which will stay with me for a while; 

“Get your act together humans, otherwise there’ll be nothing left”.

By Louise Steel

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Akram Khan’s Jungle Book Reimagined will be showing at Curve until Saturday, April 9.

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