Michael Morpurgo and Samuel Adamson
Children's Touring Partnership with Chichester Festival Theatre and Regent's Park Open Air Theatre
The Lowry 18 April 2017 to 22 April 2017
From the team that brought you War Horse (pretty much) comes this outstanding piece of theatre for children. Michael Morpurgo’s story (inspired by fact) is of a girl called Lilly, on holiday with her mum in Indonesia when the January 2004 tsunami strikes. She happens to be riding a beach elephant called Oona at the time, and the elephant takes her safely into the jungle, where she survives as a kind of ‘wild child’, making friends with orang-utans and braving the perils of a tiger and an alligator.
Her mum is lost, but her grandma from England comes looking for her. Meanwhile Lilly and her young orang-utan friends have been captured by hunters who are in the pay of nasty Mr Anthony, who’s demolishing the rain forest in order to grow palms for oil, and illegally catching and killing wildlife on the side.
The animals are all created by puppeteers (four of them to animate the elephant), and the magic of their skills is half the attraction of the show. It held a mainly young audience entranced on the afternoon I saw it.
The young lead role of Lilly is played by a team of three, one of whom, Jemima Bennett, has been Scout in a tour of To Kill A Mocking Bird. The acting skills on display are absolutely top-class, and I can’t really find a fault in the whole enterprise.
Reviewer: Robert Beale