Jungalbook | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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In adapting Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Books for young audiences, Edward Mast transposes the action from a rain forest to a modern city. Baloo the bear and Bagheera the panther thus become denizens of an urban jungle where only harsh tribal justice prevents complete mayhem. It's one thing for wild animals to argue over a kill, but when city folks do it you know you're in a rough neighborhood. Adam D. Burke's Chicago Theatre for Young Audiences production takes Mast's conceit a disastrous step further. Here the urban setting is specifically a ghetto; Baloo and Bagheera are played by black actors, the orphaned man cub Mowgli by a white. I've no doubt Burke didn't intend to play into ugly stereotypes--in fact I'm sure he intended the opposite. But ugly stereotypes are what he got. This is a well-done, well-meaning show that shoots itself right in the foot. Through 11/21: Wed 10 AM and 12:30 PM, Fri 10 AM, Sat 11 AM and 2 PM, Sun 2 PM. Duncan YMCA Chernin Center for the Arts, 1001 W. Roosevelt, 773-549-5921. $10.

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