'I wish I was a child again so I could enjoy it all the more,' somebody said to me as we left the Indigo Moon Studio having just seen Jungle Book. For the past hour the capacity crowd had been transported to a new world; a world where imagination and storytelling hold court and we, the audience, fall dutifully in line, swept along by the magic of possibility.
This retelling of Jungle Book was as far away as possible from the Disney film that has cast a simplistic, glossy sheen all over Rudyards Kipling's late 19th Century collection of stories about identity, belonging, friendship and destiny; a story that has become a perennial favourite for many.
I was thrilled to hear some of the rhyming couplets, that rhythmic verse favoured by Kipling, woven into the wider narration. Jungle Book is performed by the multi-talented Anna Ingleby, each and every character, from the feral Mowgli and the ferocious Shere Khan, to the chattering Bandar-log are all voiced and brought to life by this deft and highly skilled puppeteer.
The puppets are manipulated and controlled in such a way as to allow not only scenery to move but the figures themselves. I am told that at times, Anna can be working three or four different puppets or pieces of scenery simultaneously in order to create the visual movement.
And that movement, that animation, engages audiences young old alike; for example the way Anna makes the great Shere Khan run in huge, galloping strides or Mowgli dance and flail as an excitable child.
Music accompanies the unfolding drama, again not the Disney soundtrack, but a whole new score of original sounds, based on tabla music, composed and performed by Haviel Perdana. The music has an exotic quality, a mystical quality that adds colour, richness and a sense of worldly authenticity to the jungle narrative.
The narrative is told in black and white to begin with and then as the story develops, the screens are lit with sumptuous colours. The lighting allows not only for different levels of shadow, but for the colour blocks in the puppet frame to be illuminated, creating more than just a dark silhouetted figure, but a shadow cast with a strange sense of solidity.
Different screens and clever use of lighting and manipulation allow for the shadow puppets to appear with some sense of perspective, to escape the notion of a flat, 2 dimensional world.
The potential for this way of storytelling really comes to the fore during the chase scene, where the man-cub Mowgli, riding on Bagheera's back, is being chased down by Shere Khan.
Anna has perfected a technique that allows the scenery to move, creating the notion of speed and pace, cinematic devices come in to play so the viewer can see what is happening at the same time in different places almost like panning shots.
A lot of the secrets of how it is all done are shown by Anna and Havi as the story reaches its close. Anna steps from behind the screens and in full view of the audience manipulates the puppets thus revealing the magic. Indigo Moon have a policy of always sharing their craft and creations after a performance, and encourage the children to come up and have a go at working the dynamic cardboard armatures.
I had a go working one of the Mowgli puppets and with a little instruction I could move his arms and manipulated him, so it looked as if his shadow was walking up a hill. Around me children were posing with Shere Khan; clearly, the roaring tiger was a favourite with some o
f the older ones.
When asked what part of the show they liked most, one little boy said, 'The tiger with his big head talking to the mother wolf,' whereas a little girl, who was clearly excited by the audience interaction in the show, said she liked it when the wolves were howling and all the kids (no doubt some of the adults too) joined in.
She promptly gave me her best howl for added effect.
I also spoke with a few parents about the show, some said they come every year to the puppet show adding that it's wonderful for the kids and it keeps them quiet for an hour. Now I'm not a kid but I know just what the chap means when he said he wished he could be one again.
Jungle Book By Indigo Moon Theatre - 'magical wonderous and really good fun'
Indigo Moon Theatre has been touring nationally and internationally since 2000 they run a number of workshops with community groups and schools including Shadow Puppet Making & Contemporary Shadow Theatre Techniques
Reviews, Film Gravity (Dir. Alfonso Cuarón, 12A) (No Spoilers) Reviewed By Michelle Dee
On Sunday I went to see Gravity. I'd seen a trailer the previous week, and had been totally seduced by the panoramic space spectacle, and couldn't wait to see the film that is being described as 'a cinematic masterpiece.'
Gravity is visually superb; a thrilling, relentless experience, from the moment the space shuttle moves into view and you glimpse the astronauts outside the craft working on an antenna array, as the earth slowly rotates far below.
Reviews, Theatre Tracks by Open Umbrella Theatre at The Brolly, Scrapstore Studios - 7th to 30th November 2013
By Michelle Dee
Sitting in The Brolly, I'm reminded of the tentative steps made by the acclaimed Hull Truck Theatre Company when it
began all those years ago. With singular ambition, the traveling company used local support to put on shows for the community of Hull.
At the core of Open Umbrella Theatre is the unshakable community-minded belief that theatre must be for everyone.
Reviews, Art Ghost Ship by Dorothy Cross By Michelle Dee.
I walk softly across the darkened exhibition gallery, towards a corner, illuminated only by the light coming from the projected image on screen. I sit myself down in one of the low seats provided. The other seat, beside the one I'm in, is occupied.
A quick glance out the corner of my eye reveals a man, possibly in a dark jacket and jeans, possibly with short hair. It's difficult to work out in this half light.
Reviews, Theatre Monday 14th October 2013 - Last Orders by Martin Breathnach at Fruit
By Michelle Dee
Last Orders is a play with community spirit at its heart. Set in a northern town within the confines of that rare thing, the local pub,
untouched by the ticking of the developer's clock.
It's the kind of place you've quickened your pace as you walk past, yet inside, whole lives are playing out in rudely vivid colours, scripted by heavy local venacular.
The new play written and directed by Irish playwright Martin Breathnach,
Reviews, Art Saturday 28th September 2013 at Heads Up Festival at Trinity Church - Cruel Theatre Leaves Critic Traumatised By Michelle Dee.
How had this happened? All eyes on me. Me, casting my eyes about wildly, looking for the great big hole to swallow me up. Immediately I'm transported back,
more years than I care to mention, to the school play.
There I am in my jester's costume, tumbling around the good-looking lead playing the King, and my nerves get the better of me and with each
jolly bell rattle, there's another, slightly
Reviews, Arts Hull Dance Prize 2013 - Big Hit with Audience at Hull Truck Studio Theatre - Thursday 3rd October 2013 By Michelle Dee
Hull Dance Prize 2013, organised by Hull Dance, saw six Contemporary Dance performers/companies battling it out in the
Studio Theatre at Hull Truck, to a capacity crowd.
Hosted by the jovial 'he gets everywhere' David Burns from the popular BBC Radio Humberside programme, The Burnsy Show.
The winners would be decided by an expert panel of judges and receive a cheque for £1,500.
Reviews, Art Trinity Church Showcases Hull Poetry at Heads Up Festival - Saturday 28th September 2013 By Michelle Dee.
They've performed everywhere from the Boathouse to the Hotel Tower Ballroom (maybe not, that was Jake and Elwood), five have taken part in the Edinburgh Fringe, and between them they have amassed seven published works, in a relatively short space of time.
Reviews, Art So You Wanna be a Crime Writer? at Heads Up Festival - Saturday 28th September 2013 at The Other Space By Michelle Dee.
Michelle Dee enters the grisly world of crime fiction, a place where a black inkwell resides at the heart of every writer, and attempts to piece together, from the thoughts expressed by a select gathering of authors, a rough guide to crime writing
Reviews, Theatre City Sketch Heralds a New Dawn for Storytelling in Hull - At The Other Space, Hull By Michelle Dee
City Sketch is a site-specific theatre work that takes place inside The Other Space, a
converted office block at No 94 Alfred Gelder Street in Hull city centre. Unusual theatre, immersive theatre,
interactive theatre is making all the traditional theatre practitioners sit up and take notice.
Just as audiences want to interact with news and entertainment online, so they want to be part of the story in theatre.
Reviews, Art Breakthrough for Community Art in Hull By Michelle Dee.
It does feel like something of a breakthrough; Community artists gaining recognition through having work displayed in the
same way countless established artists have before them. I am of course talking about Hull Art Top 20 Exhibition,
showing at Art Link on Princes Avenue until 24th August 2013.
Reviews, Art Rhythm is a Danza! By Dark Clerk Photos by Philip Rhodes.
I'm shouting in a gallery, I'm shouting in a gallery, just one of the many taboos that dancer/performer Ellen Turner broke at Danza! in Hull. Ellen delivered an outrageous finale, to a rip-roaring third annual Danza! the Contemporary Dance event this year gravitating from Fruit to the Live Art Space at Ferens Gallery. Whereas live music in the city and theatre is enjoying a popular resurgence, dance is still under-represented in the city.
Reviews, Books - Day and Night in the Damaged Goods Factory by Mike Watts Reviewed by Helen Mort
Mike Watts' second collection is darker than his debut, dealing with relationships, sex, debts and the difficulty of chasing your dreams while still making ends meet.
But despite the gravity and grit of the subject matter, the poems always have a kind of exuberance to them, and energy that's almost infectious.
Reviews, Theatre Michael Black's New Play Pride Debuts at Adelphi - Tuesday 18th June 2013 By Michelle Dee
'No-one will love you - you will be alone forever'
The new play Pride by Michael Black conjures up images of the barbaric treatment of homosexuality in the latter half of the 20th Century; a play that explores issues of societal division, segregation and rejection which are as relevant today as they were then.
It is appalling to think that from 1950 and then for the next three decades, Behavioural Aversion Therapy was being administered to homosexuals in NHS hospitals across the country.
Reviews, Books - Day and Night in the Damaged Goods Factory by Mike Watts Reviewed by Terry Ireland
Just spent an hour dipping in and out Day and Night in the Damaged Goods Factory by Mike Watts. Always did like his style - no words wasted, tight and sparse. Controversial at times but always readable.
Really enjoyed. Another good 'un Mike.
Looking forward to hearing some of them performed. Mike is a superb performance poet that I have had the privilege of working with and attending his work shops. I can hear his voice in every poem.
Reviews, Books - Day and Night in the Damaged Goods Factory by Mike Watts Reviewed by Michelle Dee
Day and Night in the Damaged Goods Factory crashes through life in quick-fire stanzas that whack the unsuspecting reader over the head.
This, his second anthology available now at Waterstones Hull, sees the popular writer flexing muscles, girding loins, easing into the
self-made role of Hull street poet.
The poems are accessible, something you can pick up during a cigarette break and immediately share in a sense of solidarity.
You and he versus the rest of 'em.
Reviews, Theatre Adelphi Club Stages Theatre Double Bill By Michelle Dee
Crisis can strike at any time as the television is so fond of telling us.
It can take many different forms but the important thing is how you respond. Do you have the tools in the locker to manage the crisis to recover; to survive?
Joanna Morris' A Delicate Man explores the unknowable quantity that is human nature.
What is an all too familiar set of circumstances: a family torn apart