UEA DMTS’ 2022 production of Anthony Drewe and George Stiles’ musical Just So is such a burst of colour and energy that it’s impossible to know where to look for the first few minutes. This is, in part due to the performances of the stellar cast, and in part, due to the clever and innovative creations of the visual team, led by the ever-talented Tahlia Lenton. The wonderful set includes the use of flats, as the changing backdrops of this anthropomorphic and ambitious quest-narrative and the costumes are a cluster of colour and charm.
The musical is directed by Sam Gordon-Webb and based on Rudyard Kipling’s ‘Just So’ stories. It tells the tale of a vengeful crab playing with the ocean and wreaking havoc in the natural world. The cast is led by Rosie Hastings as the curious Elephant’s Child, who goes on a mission to quell the crab’s chaos. Rosie’s voice holds that incredible quality of being able to be both delicate and powerful when needed to, and her acting is similar in carrying its moments of poignancy and hilarity that the musical demands. With her, is the Kolokolo Bird, (Lillian Carver), who is such a pleasant contrast to the young elephant, and who Lillian presents with such lovely vibrancy throughout. But, of course, a musical wouldn’t be a musical without the commitment of a brilliant ensemble, and Just So has this in abundance; it has such a colourful cast of characters, and it is clear to see how much fun the actors are having with them.
Finally, the music, directed by Lucas Fox, is performed by a live band, on stage beside the action. I’m always astonished by musical talent, and this band has it in leaps and bounds ( *insert kangaroo emoji*)
Drama Soc have such a knack of capturing a room, and leaving the studio after the performance, it’s impossible not to feel uplifted and in the mood for a song. Maybe re-read a few Kipling novels, as a treat.
What? It’s Just So enjoyable.