PERFORMANCE REVIEW: THE JUNGLE BOOK
By Jain Lemos
Can six actors convince you they are the integral parts of an Indian Jungle on a 4-by-8-foot platform? This seems doubtful, but the undaunted cast of Duke City Repertory Theatre embraces mineral-vegetable-animal-human in a short version of The Jungle Book with confidence. Minutes into their performance, you’ll be certain at least they believe they are.
Ezra Colón adapts and directs the effort in mighty close quarters, commandeering the personas of wolves, tigers, monkeys, bears, and snakes through voice and movement. The actors are shape-shifted into caves, trees, wind, and fire. The narrative line follows the lost boy Mowgli as he is raised by wolves and taught jungle code by protective and feared animals.
Fans of the story will recognize their favorite characters: Baloo the bear (Josh Heard), Bagheera the black panther (Amelia Ampuero), and Shere Khan, the scary Bengal tiger (Katie Becker Colón). The storytelling is fast paced with blocking similar to a rigorous exercise routine. The players are well synchronized, but not spontaneous in terms of actual acting.
Outstanding is Caroline Patz in all of her roles, especially as the heavy python Kaa. Mikael Ayele does a fine job growing the wolf-raised boy Mowgli into a brave warrior. In one of the most impressive scenes of mime, he climbs a tree to meet some tricky monkeys. Ashley Daniels shines as Chil, the chatty kite, who raps out the bird’s boastful mantra with perfect comedic timing.
Running this show in their rehearsal space due to last minute changes, the troupe does their level-best to deliver Kipling’s moral tale with a satisfactory degree of entertainment. Shows run through April 2, 2017 with tickets available through Eventbrite here.
See DCRT’s promo for the show here on YouTube.