Review: Just So - The Musical at Cirencester’s Barn Theatre
PUBLISHED: 17:13 18 December 2018 | UPDATED: 17:25 18 December 2018
If you fancy a Christmas offering that’s absolutely ‘Just So’, then head to Cirencester’s Barn Theatre for a musical that has just about everything, says Miles Jarvis
Based on Rudyard Kipling’s (author of the Jungle Book) Just So Stories, the Barn Theatre’s rendition brings to life a fun-loving musical that certainly packs more than just the Bare Necessities.
Set in a time ‘before the rhino had baggy skin’ or ‘the cheetah had spots’, this quirky performance follows the quest of the wide-eyed and ever curious Elephant’s Child (portrayed by Lewis Cornay) as he sets off to the Limpopo River to try and stop the dreadful, giant crab Pau Amma from ‘playing with the sea’. (In a story which is simultaneously a fable, biblical analogy and ‘Darwinism the musical’.) So utterly huge is Pau Amma, his every exit and entry into the ocean causes mass flooding. Not ideal, in any situation.
Teaming up with Duncan Drury as the Eldest Magician, and Molly Lynch as the Kolokolo Bird, Elephant’s Child journeys through an immersive world created by the clever use of (surprisingly) the most minimal props and costumes.
From start to finish, the energy of the performance never wavers. The actors do a great job, slipping seamlessly between the different creatures they meet along the way. Each one has their own story to tell and with a complete character arc. In particular, Kiran Patel as the Parsee and Michaela Stern as the Rhino stand out in their scenes together, with excellent vocals, acting and comedy.
When the actors are not in character, they moonlight as the show’s musicians, with some impressive displays of simultaneous dancing and cello-playing.
There is something for everyone. The story is simple and easy to follow, along with some good comic moments for the little ones, while still managing to throw in subtle innuendo and tongue-and-cheek humour, breaking the fourth wall for the older audience members amongst us. And for deeper thinkers, director Kirk Jameson argues this is more than just a children’s story in the way it tackles some ‘mammoth themes’… and he may just be right.
In summary, if you enjoy the humour and the emotional scenes; if you appreciate the incredible singing – without necessarily expecting the songs to be playing on repeat in your head for days; if you sit back and become immersed in the struggle against Pau Amma, yours is the musical and everything that’s in it...(And – which is more – you’ll be a Man, my son!)
Just So, the musical, is at the Barn Theatre in Beeches Road, Cirencester GL7 1EP until January 13. Visit barntheatre.org.uk or call the box office on 01285 648255.