Review author – Ben
The writers of ‘Just So’, George Stiles and Anthony Drewe, have created a unique niche in British Theatre for a series of successful and entertaining musicals appealing to a mainly young cast and audiences with a string of successful award winning productions ’Honk’, ‘Mary Poppins’ , ‘Moll Flanders’ behind them. Lost For Words, an amateur Company established for only six years, have quickly established an excellent reputation (I was greatly impressed by their production of ‘Avenue Queue’ last year); once again, an enthusiastic audience was not disappointed. This adaption of Rudyard Kipling’s famous ‘Just So’ story of the Elephant Child and his ultimate triumph over the mischief creating Crab, Pau Amma, is a natural source for a kaleidoscopic presentation with a predominantly young cast of skilled and well trained performers. While few of the songs are ever likely to become classic ‘show tunes’, the piece provided many opportunities for the performers to display their acting, singing and dancing talents, the result providing a colourful, stimulating if not exactly enthralling panoply.
The cast of over 20, nearly all on the stage for most of the show, were quite superb either singing or dancing, solo or ensemble, with particular commendations to the experienced Tim Morley as the Eldest Magician, a true “Prospero”, master of all he surveyed, with special mention for the excellent voices of Hannah Simpson as the Kalokola Bird (complete with well manipulated puppet) and a newcomer to the Group, Adam Claydon in the pivotal role of the Elephant Child, and co-founder of the Group, Sean Lytle, with a cameo presentation as Parsee. Really, Lost for Words are brimming with talent. A special mention must be made of the impeccable, faultless band led by Harriet Oughton, well integrated choreography by Carla Fox and an ingenious collection of papier-mache props.
Director (and Co- Founder of ‘Lost for Words’), Katharine Williams, must be well satisfied with her production. If I have a criticism it was an excessive reliance on radio microphones which should not be needed in the compact but acoustically sound Nomad Theatre and some indistinct diction during spoken passages, not unnaturally when the Elephant Boy received his trunk. Nomads themselves played their parts in organisation of Front of House, Bar, Sound (Tim Williams and Clive Vinall) which, this time, was not allowed to overload us with a wall of sound, with Tony and Dee Bowdery’s impeccable lighting and the splendid costumes.
The programme, which could usefully have supplied a synopsis of the plot, stated “we hope you enjoy the ride”. We did! Come back again to the Nomad Theatre, Lost For Words—you will be welcome.