Bridewell Theatre

JUST SO at the Bridewell Theatre


“It is an enjoyable experience though, with some memorable and entertaining moments”

This musical is at its best when it leans into the silliness, and bubbles with campy fun.

Just So is a 1984 adaptation of Kipling’s childhood favourite Just So Stories. This production nods to classic stylistic tropes from the musical, with suitcases and a beige palette, but feels fresh and original.

It is playfully and imaginatively directed by Glen Jordan, with cast popping up from trapdoors, hiding in boxes and using every inch of the space.

There are some strong performances – the Eldest Magician (Joe McWilliam), who acts as narrator. holds it all together. He shines throughout, both with a rich singing voice and confident stage presence. Kate Gledhill brings range to the often-chirpy Kolokolo Bird, showing strong moments of poignancy and doubt. Freddie Tibbs, the baker, referred to throughout as Parsee Man (some of the language in this production feels a bit outdated) is a brilliant singer, and a powerful scene stealer.

“The lighting is playful and charming”

There is a huge ensemble, with a full chorus. In a piece of careful and kind directing, everyone gets their own moment, allowing a member of the chorus to show off her splits, and Eleanor Leaper as the zebra to demonstrate impressive vocal riffs. A delightful standout is Thomas Outhwaite as the baker’s oven, and sidekick. There is great and simple joy in seeing him dressed in a huge cardboard box trying to dance along with each number.

The play is slightly let down by the central character, it’s a difficult part and feels tonally out of synch with the best parts of the show. The second half is slower than the first (aside from an excellent and energetic performance by Jac Norris as the arrogant kangaroo) and possibly a few cuts could have helped keep the momentum going.

The lighting is playful and charming, the first moments of the play, where the lights slowly twinkle up, do feel deeply magical. The set design is also really fun. Palm trees become crab claws, umbrellas shift from clouds to waves – it’s imaginative and simple.

A question does dog this production, and that is who the intended audience is. As a show for children, with some cuts, this could be a real hit. For adults, parts of it feel a bit off the mark. It is an enjoyable experience though, with some memorable and entertaining moments.

JUST SO at the Bridewell Theatre

Reviewed on 5th March 2024

by Auriol Reddaway

Photography by Michael Smith



Previously reviewed at this venue:

AMADEUS | ★★★★ | November 2022
AMERICAN IDIOT | ★★★★ | May 2022

Just So

Just So

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