Theatre Review: ‘The Jungle Book’ by the Synetic Teen Ensemble, a project of the Synetic Family Theater

Photo by C Stanley Photography.

Everyone with a teen or pre-teen, everyone with a concern for adolescence and the struggles of coming of age, everyone with a love of theatre and its relationship to joy and community should go to see The Jungle Book, the new production by the Synetic Teen Ensemble.

Directed by Joseph Carlson, and told by his ensemble of thirteen teens, this Jungle Book has clarity and purpose, plus all the vitality of any Synetic show.  Using spare but effective dialogue, the story unfolds through a series of nine energetic scenes, beginning with contemporary student life as it is in a big public high school before then launching through dream into Rudyard Kipling’s classic.

Mowgli, an outsider bullied in high school, seeks companionship in the jungle.  Once there, though initially robbed by a Bandarlog (a monkey), Mowgli is then attacked by the Wolf Pack before being offered a chance to join the wolves.  The young exile from the world of Man must first pass two challenges.  Mowgli succeeds and begins to learn the laws of the jungle.  Temptation, however, lurks and soon gets the best of Mowgli, and this tale of redemption and forgiveness and ultimately ethical maturity takes flight.

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About Michael

Michael Oliver has been working in the fields of theatre and education for well over thirty years at not only the secondary and university levels, but professionally, as the co-founder of The Sanctuary Theatre, Inc. Established in 1983, the theatre became well-known throughout the Washington area for its cutting-edge productions. He is now the Director of Sanctuary's The Performing Knowledge Project: where performance and education meet.
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