Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Review: Running Wild at the Regent's Park Open Air Theatre

Running Wild 
Regent's Park Open Air Theatre
Reviewed on Friday 20th May 2016

Following the closure of War Horse, it's wonderful to see another of Michael Morpurgo's novels brought to life on the London stage with tremendous creativity. 

Centring around a young child (two boys and a girl alternate the role, named either Will or Lilly) who, after losing his/her parents, manages to survive in the Indonesian jungle thanks to an elephant named Oona.

Timothy Sheader has helmed the production alongside Dale Rooks who directed the original Chichester production. Sheader and Rooks fully embrace the unique setting of the Open Air Theatre; Running Wild is an example of a piece of theatre that thrives in an outdoor setting.

The stars of this show are the incredible puppeteers; under the direction of Finn Caldwell and Toby OliƩ, they bring to life Oona the elephant as well as an array of animals, including the most mesmerising monkeys. The young actor I saw as Will did a brilliant job; it's a hugely demanding role but he took it all in his stride.

The company is completed with a youth ensemble who are often scattered around the stage, sometimes peering on from afar. At times it all felt a little crowded, and I was repeatedly distracted by children who didn't know what they were supposed to be doing and by others who looked bored beyond belief - this gave the piece an amateurish/community theatre vibe which didn't feel right.

Although Running Wild runs at just two hours, the pace drags on several occasions - there are certainly moments that could be cut to speed things up. Those who have read the book will know that Morpurgo has written a terrific adventure story that fuels the imagination. I love family friendly theatre which isn't all nicey nicey - at times Running Wild is intense!

Running Wild brings together the magic of puppetry with the magic of the Regent's Park Open Air Theatre - theatre doesn't get more magical than this!

Reviewed by Andrew Tomlins (Editor)

Running Wild runs at the Regent's Park Open Air Theatre until 12th June 2016.
Please visit for further information and tickets.

Photo Credit:  Johan Persson

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