Family-friendly show: Jungle Book reimagined at Sadler’s Wells 

The Akram Khan Company, a world-renowned dance company, has been producing innovative and breathtaking productions for over 22 years. The company has a significant international presence, and its tours reach people of various cultures and backgrounds worldwide. The artistic director of the company, Akram Khan, is also a recipient of numerous international dance awards, including the Olivier Award for his solo production DESH in 2012.

Akram Khan’s dance organisation has achieved many milestones throughout its journey, and one of the significant ones was the creation of a section of the London Olympic Games Opening Ceremony in 2012. Their latest offering, Jungle Book Reimagined, had its London premiere at Sadler’s Wells a few days ago. 

jungle book reimagined show collage

Jungle Book Reimagined is not a stage adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s classic book, as some may expect. Instead, it is Khan’s interpretation of the story as a cautionary tale about mankind’s impact on nature. Through the use of multimedia, including video design, animation, music, and dance, Khan tells the story of Mowgli, a young girl separated from her mother in the midst of a persistent and unseasonable rainstorm.

Mowgli finds herself in an abandoned city where animals are in charge, and she meets a pack of wolves, a bear, an albino panther, a troupe of monkeys, and a rock python. All of the animals have been tormented by humans, and they learn to trust Mowgli, and she helps them to survive. In return, Mowgli kills a hunter to protect her animal friends before going off again in search of her own kind.

The production involves a lot of voiced narrative, music, projections, and some dance, with a long list of creatives. Akram Kahn both choreographs and directs. The emotional musical score was commissioned from award-winning composer Jocelyn Pook, who has collaborated with Khan on three productions, including Desh and Dust. 

The highlight of the production was undoubtedly the dance along with the the video design and animation. The company flooded the stage with transporting images of violent rainstorms and a variety of animals, including scurrying mice, fleeing giraffes, and imposing, wise old elephants.

The dancers of the Akram Khan Company performed their parts admirably. Their dance interludes were compelling, and their connection with the earth, influenced by Khan’s kathak heritage, was evident. However, the dancers’ portrayal of animals without the full panoply of costumes and make-up was at times confusing. The animals’ moves were often not clear enough to differentiate a panther from a monkey, a wolf or a bear. Generic ape gestures were not always applicable to monkeys. Despite that, the skills and strength required to perform such a show have to be impressive. Hats off to all artists.

The portrayal of the python was quite original through a line of cardboard boxes and green lights for the eyes. There were many times when Jungle Book Reimagined had the audience, including children over eight years old, rapt.

The only disappointment for me was the initial speech by Greta Thunberg. They could have chosen something more inspirational and powerful than including the words of a little girl who is clearly manipulated by globalists.

Akram Khan Company’s Jungle Book Reimagined is an innovative and imaginative production that takes the classic tale and turns it into a cautionary tale about mankind’s impact on nature. The production’s multimedia elements, including video design, animation, music, and dance, are well integrated and showcase the talents of the creatives involved.

Jungle Book Reimagined show and family-friendly workshops and activities before the performance is a must-see-participate activity for those who appreciate innovation and creativity in the performing arts.

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