Tuesday, 2 July 2013

The Bermondsey Review: 'The Jungle Book' at Peter Hills with St Mary's and St Paul's, SE16

More than the bare necessities:
'The Jungle Book'

Rotherhithe and Bermondsey kids are among the best in London.  But, when they get together to produce and stage a revival of the musical version of Rudyard Kipling's 'The Jungle Book', they become a force to be reckoned with.  And, that is exaclty what's happening this Wednesday and Thursday evening over at Peter Hills with St Mary's and St Paul's Primary School.
Taking in children from both Rotherhithe and Bermondsey, Peter Hills school has gone from strength to strength in recent years with the backing of a committed team of children, staff and parents and carers.  In a recent Ofsted inspection, the school jumped to 'good' in the overall effectiveness rating.  Well done, Peter Hills!  But, that's enough about inspections!
Today's preview show of the year six production of the Jungle Book was a right royal rollicking good time.  Let's face it, children know what they like, and they always tell us what they don't.  Judging by the roaring reaction of the assembled audience of children and staff, they agreed that this was a piece of theatre of the highest standard.  
School productions can sometimes be long-winded and disappointing. Not this one!  The performances of the main and supporting actors were superb, while the clear and extremely uplifting singing from the year 5 choir kept the show moving along.  In the words of  X-Factor judge Simon Cowell, "Some of you don't know quite how good you really are!"  Put quite simply, many of the cast have promising careers ahead in acting and performance - they were that good!
Immediately, the brilliantly simple set design transported the audience to a jungle faraway.  The rousing 'Bare Necessities' and its later reprise sung by the cartwheeling bees, the tree, Baloo the bear and Mowgli were inspirational.  The comedy turn by the two crows provided theatre worth paying for, as they both fought for the affections of an unsuspecting and superbly acted Mowgli.  Shere Khan was at times so scary that it was easy to forget that the show was actually being performed in a primary school, while Bagheera the panther was confidently and creatively played.  The herd of elephants made a thumpingly good entrance and the troop of monkeys were hilarious as they danced delightfully in 'I wan'na be like you!'  One clever addition was the five member snake Kaa which used its persuasive powers to trap sinisterly the man cub Mowgli.  A final mention goes to year six boy Kieran who was competently reponsible for sound and special effects.
Good theatre forces us to put on hold our lives, leaving behind at the door our problems and worries: Peter Hills kids should be proud of achieving what many professional actors and singers fail to do for a living.
The school's motto is 'Striving for excellence, caring for children'.  Today, they demonstrated that they rate 'outstanding' on both counts.

Wednesday 3rd July 2013 at 7.30pm
Thursday 4th July 2013 at 7.30pm (both in the school hall)
2 Beatson Walk
SE16 5ED
Tel: 020 7237 2654

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