A FITTING crescendo to the Barn Theatre's first season, Just So creates the perfect feel good feeling for the festive period.

I took my ten-year-old son to see Rudyard Kipling's best known stories, which are considered a classic of children's literature.

Perhaps knowing the little theatre's reputation for biggest performances I shouldn't have been surprised by the breathtaking show that we both enjoyed.

This isn't a show that's just for children. It's for all the family, your neighbours, colleagues and possibly worth recommending to random strangers you might pass in the street too.

Flicking through the programme minutes before the show is set to begin, I note the big hitters that are in the production, it gives me a first inkling of what we're about to enjoy.

Glancing up, as the cast take to the stage and start warming up, we spot Lewis Cornay who is set to shine as the elephant child.


Although both Cass and I swear we've seen him in other performances, as a relatively recent graduate of acting school it's unlikely that we have - but he is certainly one to watch.

All of the other actors have at least a dozen top productions under their belt - and one can even features as one of those waiters we love to love on the hit channel 4 series First Dates.

Lights down, hushed voices, programme pushed to one side - for the next hour or so we are treated to the highest class of acting, light and sound that we have come to expect from this theatre at the heart of the Cotswolds.


A high-octane, action-packed performance that had the actors transporting us through every emotion, from genuine laugh out loud joy to a flicker of fear when Matthew Kelly's instantly recognisable voice booms out in a pre-recorded vocal as giant crab Pau Amma.

(For parents worried about younger audience members the final crab scenes quickly dispel that any flicker of concern - as the whole audience joined together in one big chuckle at his appropriate demise).

Aside from relative newcomer Lewis's astounding performance - we've agreed to going to see him in every single show he is ever in in future - every single other person on that stage had clearly earned their spotlight.

From Kiran Patel who hypnotised us all with a fair bit of funky hip gyration- and an exceptional cookery class - to Molly Lynch who pulls off a deliciously deadpan flightless KoloKolo bird. I swear we could see wry rise of her lips from the back row.


I dare you not to be entranced by the characters of the giraffe and zebra too. The carefully realised characters see the two animals transformed to coquettish ladies who flirt - dangerously - with the virile and endlessly flummoxed leopard and jaguar.

Another newcomer, Evie Rose Lane had us all believing that a cookery stove really was having a bit of a dance on stage - although I spent several minutes trying to work out how she was making the heavy object appear to float so lightly under the lights.


If I'm honest I'd pay good money just to watch Michaela Stern play her part of the thick-skinned rhino so irritated by cake crumbs all by herself. The woman knew how to have the audience (eating cake?) out of her hooves.

With such a strong cast, clothed in gloriously creative costumes, and a rampaging soundtrack, which is expertly played on stage by the actors themselves, the musical should be at considerable risk of deteriorating into chaos.

Not under eldest magician Duncan Drury's reassuring eye - his calming narration, observation, and humour carefully steers the audience through the delicious mayhem.

This is a show you don't want to miss, book your tickets now and take your friends and family - they're sure to thank you for it.


Just So, Barn Theatre, Cirencester

Until Jan 13, 2019

Booking barntheatre.org.uk