Home » London Theatre Reviews » Just So at the Bridewell Theatre | Review

Just So at the Bridewell Theatre | Review

Those of you who have read my reviews over the years will know that I’ve always been very impressed with the work of SEDOS. I’m always excited to be invited to see their latest production so I was thrilled to pop to the Bridewell Theatre last night for the opening of Just So.

Just So. Credit to Michael Smith.
Just So. Credit to Michael Smith.

It’s the dawn of time and the Eldest Magician (Joe McWilliam) has released all the animals to enjoy the earth on which they live. The animals, who currently look very similar to each other, get along well and their lives are overall untroubled. Unfortunately, their paradise does have a problem in the shape of Pau Amma, a giant Crab, who goes out looking for food twice a day, causing large areas of the land to flood, and destroying the animals’ food. The animals grumble and moan about Pau Amma’s actions but just accept that it is what it is. All that is except the Elephant’s Child (Dylan Evans) who is an inquisitive sort, forever asking questions including “Can’t we just politely ask Pau Amma to stop doing this?” Deciding to set off and do just this, the Elephant’s child asks the Eldest Magician for help to find the giant crab. The Magician gives him a flightless Kolokolo Bird (Kate Gledhill) to assist him in finding the Limpopo River where it is believed the crab comes ashore. The two set off on their travels in a flimsy raft and soon get blown off course winding up on an island where a Parsee Man (Freddie Tibbs), his under-used stove (Thomas Outhwaite), and a Rhino (Will Hunkin) are the only inhabitants. Once this detour is over, the Elephant’s Child and Kolokolo Bird set off once more to the coast of Africa, the Limpopo, and their confrontation with a giant crab that it is hoped, will respond appropriately to a polite request to cease causing problems twice a day.

I don’t speak any ancient languages, but in my mind, the word SEDOS doesn’t stand for the Stock Exchange Dramatic and Operatic Society but is, in fact, the Greek word for ‘Really Delivers’ because that’s what they have done once again. I really loved this production of Just So from start to finish. Based on the ‘Just So’ stories by Rudyard Kipling, and with music from Anthony Drewe and George Stiles, I’m really surprised it’s not put on more often. The story of the Elephant Child and his quest works well to hold all the individual stories together and provide an overarching narrative that holds together well, with some memorable songs.

The cast, under Director Glen Jordan and Choreographer Sam Ferguson, have a highly talented cast to work with and pull every stop out to translate the words and music to a first-rate theatrical experience. There are so many wonderful elements in the show. The innocent joy, and naïve hopefulness shown by Dylan Evans at every new experience is beautifully countered by the world-weariness and disgruntled appearance of Kate Gledhill as the Elephant’s Child and Kolokolo Bird, respectively. Similarly, the Parsee Man, stove and Rhino on what has to be the campest island on the planet was wonderfully done with the three actors really playing off each other beautifully.

I also loved Geri Hutyán’s costumes at this point and really want some sequined chef’s whites and hat for the next time I’m throwing a dinner party. Let’s not forget the Jaguar (Thomas Riggs) and Leopard (James Davies) looking like those two lads in a nightclub who will be a nightmare for any woman dancing alone as they search for their prey. However in this case, when they say they want to get close to Giraffe (Ellie McWilliam) and Zebra (Eleanor Leaper) and have them for dinner, they are talking in a very literal sense. And I can’t forget the athletic performance of Jac Norris as the Kangaroo being chased by a Dingo Dog (Heather Daniel). I’m not sure how Jac felt after his big number, but I was exhausted for him. Holding everything together is Joe McWilliam, whose performance as the Eldest Magician cannot be faulted. I’m currently listening to the World Premiere Cast Recording of Just So on Spotify, and I have to say I think the cast I saw last night sounded a lot better – sorry John Barrowman.

OK, so it’s obvious I loved Just So. Was there anything about the show I didn’t like, or thought could be improved? Well, no. The show worked on every level and hearing one of the few pieces of poetry I like “If” being put to music was really the icing on the cake. Another superb production and a fabulous night out brought to you by this most unamateur of Amdram companies.

5 Star Rating

Review by Terry Eastham

Join us on this journey with the young, effervescent and inquisitive Elephant’s Child and the sassy, sarcastic and flightless Kolokolo Bird as they set out to save their friends and family from the wicked Pau Amma who is threatening their homeland.

On our journey through this magical tale, we’ll meet a wide array of fun loving characters, from a Kangaroo who is shocked to see the rate at which his legs have grown, to a Parsee Man who lives seemingly alone with his seemingly inanimate stove…

CAST
ELDEST MAGICIAN | Joe McWilliam
ELEPHANT’S CHILD | Dylan Evans
KOLOKOLO BIRD | Kate Gledhill
PARSEE MAN | Freddie Tibbs
COOKING STOVE | Thomas Outhwaite
RHINO | Will Hunkin
ZEBRA | Eleanor Leaper
GIRAFFE | Ellie McWilliam
JAGUAR | Thomas Riggs
LEOPARD | James Davies
KANGAROO | Jac Norris
DINGO DOG | Heather Daniel
CROCODILE | Will Hunkin

ENSEMBLE
Isabella Farrell, Lissy Foyle, Natasha Jeffrey, Ella Josey, Connie McFarlane, Emma Miller, Eilish Mulvihill, Katy Robinson, François Vanhoutte and Sophie Wheale

CREATIVE TEAM

DIRECTOR | Glen Jordan
CHOREOGRAPHER | Sam Ferguson
MUSICAL DIRECTOR | Adrian Hau
PRODUCER | Jon Haines

Just So
Music by George Stiles
Lyrics by Anthony Drewe
Inspired by the stories of Rudyard Kipling
Orchestrations by Christopher Jahnke
Associate orchestrator John Clancy
Originally produced by Cameron Mackintosh

Set to an eclectic, upbeat score, Kipling’s famous tales are woven with wit and imagination into a song-filled journey through the jungle
5-9 MARCH 2024
https://www.sedos.co.uk/

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