Reviewed – 15th July 2017
“a visceral, animalistic masterclass”
Man-Cub is a visceral, animalistic masterclass. Devised by a cast of nine, directed and conceived by RADA’s Alistair Wilkinson, the hour-long physical ensemble piece retells and reworks the story of the Jungle Book, against the pulsing bass of a nightclub dance-floor.
The show begins as any night out at a London club, with a brief pat-down and the turning away of those who look a little too green to enter the lions’ den. But as the night unfurls, innocence and consent become increasingly blurred, and we are led into a world where everything is fair game and the law of the jungle reigns.
Through a spectacular feast of physical theatre, we follow the man-cubs first deep-dive into a world fuelled by physicality and narcotics, twisted and distorted by the figures of the night; the caring mother, the excluded down-and-out, the seductress and finally the predator.
Alex Britt is sublimely cast as our rosy-cheeked young protagonist. In a piece where the story is largely told visually and physically, rather than verbally, Britt’s expression and intensity is truly magnetic, drawing the audience to his exposed vulnerability amidst the chaos of the dancefloor.
Every cast member has their moment, beautifully showcasing the clear talent of the ensemble cast; without exception, performances are outstanding, with particular note to Lizzie Manwaring and Callum Tilling, who steal the show with the instinctual animality of their physical performances.
The piece itself is a testament to the potential of Wilkinson and his cast; truly visually breath-taking, the narrative is sometimes lost to the feeling of the piece, overtaken by the intense staccato movement and atmosphere and the audience are left questioning what it all means. With some streamlining and clarification, explicitly distinguishing and exploring each character, this piece could do excellently well with a fringe audience, and I am incredibly excited to see where Man-Cub, and its stunning cast, will be taking us in future.
Reviewed by Tasmine Airey