Rudyard Kipling’s Jungle Books continue to delight audiences and inspire new productions. Each one strives to refresh the stories anew. Disney had two bites on film but it is in the theatre that they really work their magic by inviting the audience to use its imagination.

This current production aims to give the tales a contemporary edge with its message about diversity, personality and compassion. This it does, not by preaching, but with subtlety and a great deal of humour.

Playwright Jessica Swale has provided a script that is emotionally driven and has partnered composer, Joe Stilgoe, in providing pleasant and stirring lyrics for his original score drawn from worldwide influences. The music is provided by the actor/musicians with impressive support throughout from percussionist Diogo Gomes.

What director, Max Walker, and his creative team serve up is a delicious inventive feast of song, clever and exciting choreography woven wrapped around excellent acting both serious and comic.

The audience is introduced to baby Mowgli, through puppetry, until it morphs into the older man cub version delightfully played by the vibrant Keziah Joseph. She captures all Mowgli’s complexities especially his uncertainty as to his place in life.

Lloyd Gorman is strong in his portrayal of Shere Khan, the tiger – part pantomime villain, part vicious killer whilst Tripti Tripuranen, as Mowgli’s protector Akela makes a wise leader of the wolf pack.

Much of the show’s comedy comes from Mowgli’s jungle guardians, Bagheera (panther) and Balloo (bear) and in the hands of Deborah Oyelade and Dyfrid Morris provides a truly comic duo forever insulting each other. Morris, as Welsh as his name suggests, is a natural clown who squeezes every ounce of comedy from the part.

Rachel Dawson, T J Holmes, Ruri James, Avita Jay and Chipo Kureya provide excellent support in their multi-roles.