Review: The Jungle
Image: Sonia Friedman Productions
Ammar Haj Ahmad
Alex Lawther (until 11 Aug)
Freddie Meredith (from 13 Aug)
Following universal critical acclaim, and direct from a sold-out run at the Young Vic, The Jungle, transfers to the West End this summer.
This is the place where people suffered and dreamed.
Meet the hopeful, resilient residents of The Jungle- just across the Channel, right on our doorstep.
The Jungle tells stories of loss, fear, community and hope, of the Calais camp's creation - and of its eventual destruction.
Join the residents over freshly baked naan and sweet milky chai at the Afghan Café, and experience the intense, moving and uplifting encounters between refugees from many different countries and the volunteers who arrived from the UK.
Experience the Playhouse Theatre as never before, as the venue undergoes an extraordinary transformation to recreate the intimate in-the-round staging of Miriam Buether's critically-acclaimed Young Vic design.
Audiences are invited to choose from two unique experiences: take a seat at the benches and tables of the vibrant and bustling Afghan Café at the heart of the Calais Jungle, or watch from 'The Cliffs of Dover' in the circle, overlooking the dynamic performance space below.
Wherever you sit, prepare to be transported into the world of the Calais camp, where a community forged from necessity shares its unimaginable stories of hope against all odds.
The Reviewer (Alex)Performance date: Thursday 5 July 2018
On Thursday evening, I entered the Playhouse Theatre knowing very little about the play I was about to witness.
As soon as I stepped inside I was immediately struck by the reinvention of the theatre; the venue had been transformed into a refugee camp.
It was like nothing I had ever seen before.
I then realised that the play I was about to watch was something very, very special.
The Jungle is the place where people suffered and dreamed.
In this moving production, we meet the hopeful and resilient residents of 'The Jungle' - situated just across the Channel and right on our doorstep.
The play tells stories of loss, fear, community and hope, of the Calais camp's creation and of its eventual destruction.
This is a very heartbreaking and touching story, and one which I am confident will provoke an emotional response from all of those that watch it.
The struggles that the characters within the play have to deal with are utterly horrendous, and I am sure the various tales of suffering would have been more than enough to make all audience members grateful for all that they have in their lives.
Whilst it is one thing to acknowledge the difficulties faced by the characters in this play though, it is particularly important to point out that almost all of The Jungle has been based on real life encounters; the horrific struggles and suffering depicted in the play are all issues that certain individuals have actually lived through.
We as audience members cannot pretend this is fiction, because all of it has genuinely happened.
It's therefore rather eye-opening, showing the audience that the migrant crisis is an issue that needs to be dealt with more effectively and quickly.
It is somewhat rare for me to speak of the direction of a piece of theatre, however I feel that this production deserves to be an exception to the norm.
The Jungle is performed in-the-round, meaning that this must be a fairly difficult piece to stage, however co-directors Stephen Daldry and Justin Martin have done wonders with this production.
I commend both Daldry and Martin for their superlative staging!
The cast of The Jungle are incredible; there can be no other word to describe them.
The pain, suffering, passion and raw emotion displayed by each performer was quite phenomenal.
This show's cast had quite a rare quality to them; they were all equally talented.
There are many productions for which I am able to choose stand-out cast members, but that is exceedingly difficult in this instance.
There are no weak links whatsoever, and each cast member shines in their own right.
Additionally, it is rather interesting to see a number of refugees starring in the play.
For a certain number of the actors, they are not simply telling a fictitious story of refugees travelling to the United Kingdom: this is their own life story.
The set design, created by Miriam Buether, was extraordinary.
As previously mentioned, the Playhouse Theatre has been completely redesigned, pulling the audience into the heart of the Calais Jungle.
All of the seats within the stalls have been completely removed, and instead benches with bar-like tables have been placed on either side of the long and narrow stage.
The atmosphere created as a result of this design is terrifically immersive.
With the actors no more than a few inches away from you, the audience are a part of the play.
It feels like we are actually living there with them in the refugee camp.
I was also rather impressed with the costume design, which has been created by Catherine Kodicek.
All of the costumes within the play were remarkably realistic, therefore continuing the effort to make the play as life-like as possible.
The lighting design is also admirable, which proved to be tremendously effective throughout the duration of the play, especially during the scene in which police descended into the Calais Jungle.
I found the whole experience to be illuminating and I am thrilled to have gotten the opportunity to watch this tremendous piece of theatre.
[You can read more of Alex's reviews at his own website called The Basic Theatre Review]
Links and related content
ActDrop listing for Playhouse Theatre
Our show listing for The Jungle
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