By Michael Morpurgo
In an adaptation by Samuel Adamson
A co-production with Chichester Festival Theatre
For Will, going to Indonesia isn’t just another holiday with mum. It’s a new start, and the chance to ride an elephant called Oona. But then the tsunami hit.
Charging deep into the jungle, Oona escapes the beach with her young rider desperately clinging on. Miles from civilisation, at first there’s wonder, discovery and tree-top adventures amongst the orang-utans. But, as thoughts turn to mum left behind on the beach, tigers prowl, hunger hits, and Will must now learn to survive the rainforest. Then come the hunters…
In a new adaptation by Samuel Adamson, Michael Morpurgo’s novel is one “that you know from the start is going to break your heart” (Times).
With a cast of 40 directed by Artistic Director Timothy Sheader and original Chichester director Dale Rooks, and puppetry design and direction by Finn Caldwell and Toby Olié, both previous Associate Puppetry Directors on War Horse, this was the largest-scale production ever to be presented at the Open Air Theatre.
A story of love, loss, loyalty and of living for the moment.
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"A WINNER. The puppetry is exquisite, with full-sized animals manipulated so they seem to breathe with documentary life. And as the sun goes down over Regent’s Park and Paul Anderson’s atmospheric lighting kicks in, THE MAGIC REALLY HITS YOU."
"A role-swapping, puppet-wielding cast…team together to offer vivid suggestions of both the danger and beauty of this tropical wilderness…REMARKABLE by its INVENTIVE, EVOCATIVE STAGING."
"It’s A CROWDPLEASER, mainly thanks to INSPIRING and ENERGETIC staging, namely some amazing puppet animals...brought to beautifully articulated life.
This fairy-lit stage in Regent’s Park is one of the prettiest theatres in the world, and deserves to be on everyone’s summer night bucket list."
"What an AUDACIOUS and IMAGINATIVE start this is to the season....stylishly directed by Timothy Sheader and Dale Rooks. And those puppets are things of never-ending beauty."
"This ABSROBING VISUAL FEAST gradually develops from a lost-in-the-jungle survival story into a morality tale that pitches a brave child against murderous poachers intent on killing endangered wildlife for profit. The animals, all magnificent life-size puppets designed by Finn Caldwell and Toby Olié, are played with tender warmth and humour by their 'handlers', with Oona the elephant exuding charm and courage."
"Beautifully realised and modulated...the puppet-work is fantastic…and other touches from directors Timothy Sheader and Dale Rooks were dazzling: the sung music effects of the sea from the chorus and the patter of rain, the huge blue material that represented the tsunami and enveloped the audience at one point took my breath away”
A BRILLIANT, LIFE-AFFIRMING SHOW."
- Director – Timothy Sheader & Dale Rooks
- Designer – Paul Wills
- Puppetry Design and Direction – Finn Caldwell and Toby Olié for Gyre & Gimble
- Movement Director – Georgina Lamb
- Composer & Music Director – Rod Paton
- Sound Score – Nick Powell
- Lighting Designer – Paul Anderson
- Sound Designer – Nick Lidster for Autograph
- Season Associate Director (Voice & Text)
– Barbara Houseman
- Casting Director – Jessica Ronane CDG
- Ensemble Casting – Verity Naughton
- Music Director (Performance) – Louise Anna Duggan
- Dialect Coach – Majella Hurley
- Assistant Director – Oliver Kaderbhai
- Will – Joshua Fernandes
- Will – Tyler Osborne
- Lilly – Ava Potter
- Red Bandana/Mahout – Okorie Chukwu
- Granny – Joyce Henderson
- Mum/Geraldine – Hattie Ladbury
- Grandad/Kaya – Eric Mallett
- Dad/Hunter – Ira Mandela Siobhan
- Mr Anthony – Stephen Ventura
- Oona an elephant –
Laura Cubitt, John Leader, Michael Taibi, Ben Thompson
- Mani an orangutan –
Stuart Angell, Sarah Mardel
- Charlie an orangutan – Romina Hytten
- Tonk an orangutan – Fred Davis