Mowgli, a ferocious boy-child raised by wolves in the jungle, has been kicked out of the pack. He’s trying to figure out what to do next when he meets a mysterious creature from another world – or rather, another story. Puck has been watching Mowgli with unusually keen interest, so the two might be able to help each other out.
But after lengthy introductions, little happens. The hypothetical question, ‘What if Mowgli and Puck meet?’ that drives the story isn’t answered with much action or purpose. There are extensive conversations about magic, language and identity, but not much else. Though the stakes are high for Mowgli, there is comparatively little urgency.
The contemporary text does a disservice to the characters who are written with much more detail and skill by the original authors. None of the original language is present here, and the script has a blatant lack of poetry and subtlety.
There are some nice design elements, though. Camouflage netting and ivy with a small pool of water goes a long way to create atmosphere in the otherwise plain blackbox, and the costumes have been chosen with thought.
The story’s premise could be an interesting one and it taps into some themes with potential for in-depth exploration, but only manages to skim the surface. With a linguistic overhaul and more tension, this new play would go a long way towards reaching its potential.
Changelings runs through 26 August.
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