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Jungle Rumble (Susan Elkin reviews)

Show: Jungle Rumble

Society: West End & Fringe

Venue: Fortune Theatre, Russell Street, Covent Garden, London WC2B 5HH

Credits: Presented by Perform Productions. ‘A wild new musical for all the family.’

 

Jungle Rumble

2 stars

The crude political message in this 45-minute show for under-7s is shallow and overdone. Yes of course we need to save endangered animals and to conserve the jungle but absurd, outdated stereoptyping of the sort of people who once killed animals for taxidermy is hardly likely to get the message over to young children. Beware of laboured indoctrination masquerading as educative entertainment.

Moreover I wasn’t comfortable with the zoological and biological solecisms. Snow the White Lion is eventually rescued. She is the last of her species so that’s important. How she come to be pregnant is a mystery.

And Cheetahs, for goodness sake, are carnivores. “Don’t trust a cheetah with your Ryvita/With just one packet I’ll make a racket” is a witty lyric but surely this show is supposed to me making some serous points not teaching nonsense?

I winced at the rhyming of Guatamala with koala too. Sorry, folks, but koalas live in Australia.

All this is a pity because the songs are jolly and varied in style from Calyspo to Rap to ballad. These will already be known to children who attend Perform classes for 4-7s.

All seven members of the cast are strong singers and there’s some nifty movement choreographed by Frank Thompson) In particular, Darren Hart is a bit of a show stealer as the bouncy, jokey Cheetah, Rachel Lea-Grey gives us an attractive young Zebra learning to overcome self effacement and Carole Stennett’s cobra is slitheringly convincing. Ben Stock shows a lot of versatility as a ridiculed English colonial gent, leader of the monkey troop and a crocodile.

And Lotte Collett’s costume designs are inspired – just enough animal hints to make us believe in them. Sharron Ballard as Eeli the elephant, for instance, is all in grey with a trunk protruding from her chest – she creates an elephantine ambience by moving it with her hand.

An opportunity lost, therefore. We owe it to children to entertain them truthfully rather than patronising them with this sort of stuff. As it is the talents of this cast and creative team are wasted.

First published by Sardines: https://www.sardinesmagazine.co.uk/review/jungle-rumble/

Author information
Susan Elkin
Susan Elkin Susan Elkin is an education journalist, author and former secondary teacher of English. She was Education and Training Editor at The Stage from 2005 - 2016
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