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The Jungle Book amid London's concrete towers

Wednesday, August 02, 2017 - 02:10

The Jungle Book, but not as you've seen it before.Set to open at the Edinbugh Fringe on Friday, replacing the ''bear necessities'' with the brutal realities faced by some living on the streets of the UK today. David Dolan reports.

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Mowgli, Bagheera, Louis, Baloo. It's the Jungle Book, but not as you've seen it before. The Concrete Jungle book - set to open at the world's biggest arts festival, the Edinbugh Fringe, on Friday (August 4). Replacing the "Bear Necessities" with the brutal realities faced by some living on the streets of the UK today. SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH) DOMINIC GARFIELD, 'MOWGLI' AND WRITER/DIRECTOR, SAYING: "The story of Mowgli, the feral boy trying to make his way in the jungle, we straight away saw a real resemblance in young people trying to find thir way on the streets when they are homeless and have difficult housing conditions." To research the show the cast spoke with such homeless people, many of whom were refugees, and heard about journeys from jungles in war-torn lands to the concrete jungle of the UK capital. Thus Mowgli is a homeless young refugee wandering through a jungle not of trees, but dilapidated tower blocks. It's easy to draw parallels with London's devastating Grenfell Tower blaze - a tragic symbol of the gap between rich and poor in the UK. SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH) DOMINIC GARFIELD, 'MOWGLI' AND WRITER/DIRECTOR, SAYING: "People were tweeting about the show and tweeting about the fact that there's tower blocks and we realised, ok, hold on, there's poignance in this, people are trying to find the poignance in this, so we have to find the poignance in this." And the dangers here are not tigers and snakes, but hunger, drug abuse and gang violence. More violent, certainly, than the Disney version. But that's important in order to tell a story absent from UK theatre and media, says Joe Barnes Philips, co-director at Highrise Theatre that created the show with North London's artsdepot. SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH) JOE BARNES-PHILLIPS, 'BALOO' AND DIRECTOR, SAYING: "It's the truth. This is what happens, it's true, people get stabbed in London. So it's just a way of addressing it." Unlike Disney's Jungle Book, Mowgli does not follow a girl into a village at the end of this play. Instead, his fate is left open. The message? Anything is possible if you take your own future into your hands.

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The Jungle Book amid London's concrete towers

Wednesday, August 02, 2017 - 02:10