Review: The Jungle Book at Assembly Hall Theatre, Tunbridge Wells
It’s been a bit of a revelation for me…but apparently pantomimes are not just for Christmas! Last year we enjoyed our first ‘Easter Panto’ in the form of Alice in Wonderland, so we were thrilled to hear that this new tradition was set to continue with the arrival of The Jungle Book to the Tunbridge Wells Assembly Hall Theatre. From the same team of producers that delivered last year’s show Wicked Productions work the same magic bringing a level of hysteria to the audience that leaves you wondering – was that really supposed to happen?! The tour is set to continue around the country over the next few months… so if you’re thinking of watching the show…here’s what you need to know:
This is a proper family show so all ages should feel welcome to attend. The running time is 2 hours and 5 minutes (including a short interval), however, restless toddlers and multiple toilet visits are all acceptable in this laid back performance.
Without a doubt the show is made by Payne and Swift (playing Bagheera and Baloo). Their slapstick comedy and cheeky innuendos had all ages in stitches…almost relentlessly! The standout moment for me was their brilliant Boom Box scene where, in a confused state Baloo tries to woo his pal through a series of sexy dance moves.
Another brilliant scene, again with Payne and Swift this time joined by Monifa James as Mowgli, involves a ridiculous game where they tease each other with a ‘surprise’ taste of honey…which turns out to be a face full of water. The scene carries on until the cast are all in a state of chaos, slipping over and seemingly off-script…but an absolute joy to watch!
All this in addition to Baloo’s gospel choir, plenty of booing each time baddy Shere Khan (played by Ed Wright) graces the stage and Wicked Productions customary dance session in the finale…the Jungle Book has all the ingredients of a brilliantly fun, family show.