REVIEW: Running Wild at Chichester Festival Theatre

Ava Potter as Lilly and Oona (Running Wild). Photo Johan Persson
Ava Potter as Lilly and Oona (Running Wild). Photo Johan Persson

Michael Morpurgo’s Running Wild is no rehash of Kipling’s The Jungle Book.

This is a tale that’s just about as contemporary as it gets.

But Morpurgo is the first to admit that Kipling was a great hero of his and the principles that underpinned The Jungle Book are part of the inspiration for this sweeping production.

That philosophy, simply put, is that we humans are part of the natural world and not superior to it.

Animals and the natural world do not exist for our amusement.

Running Wild is Lilly’s story. A young girl still coming to terms with the untimely death of her father caught up in a tsunami which is to change her life forever.

It is an elephant which saves her and a host of creatures - each perilously close to extinction - who sustain her in the jungle.

Soon Lilly realises that it’s not a giant wave that threatens her most - but human hunters who would extinguish her as quickly as they would her jungle friends.

The puppetry is sumptuous. Not mere the puppets themselves but the forensic understanding of every nuanced movement which defines the animals they are depicting.

The play is presented by The Children’s Touring Partnership and on the night we reviewed, Jemima Bennett was Lilly.

A terrific performance as powerful and compelling in tone as the mighty David Attenborough himself.