Can six actors convince you they are the integral parts of an Indian Jungle on a 4-by-8-foot platform? This seems doubtful, but the undaunted cast of Duke City Repertory Theatre embraces mineral-vegetable-animal-human in a short version of The Jungle Book with confidence. Minutes into their performance, you’ll be certain at least they believe they are.
Ezra Colón adapts and directs the effort in mighty close quarters, commandeering the personas of wolves, tigers, monkeys, bears, and snakes through voice and movement. The actors are shape-shifted into caves, trees, wind, and fire. The narrative line follows the lost boy Mowgli as he is raised by wolves and taught jungle code by protective and feared animals.
Fans of the story will recognize their favorite characters: Baloo the bear (Josh Heard), Bagheera the black panther (Amelia Ampuero), and Shere Khan, the scary Bengal tiger (Katie Becker Colón). The storytelling is fast paced with blocking similar to a rigorous exercise routine. The players are well synchronized, but not spontaneous in terms of actual acting.