Running Wild is a moving story of love, loss and resilience (4 stars)

Running Wild is a moving story of love, loss and resilience

credit: Dan Tsantilis

Imaginative stage adaptation proves more than worthy of Michael Morpurgo's novel

When Michael Morpurgo set out to write Running Wild, he had a very deliberate mission in mind. Yes, he wanted to tell a gripping story – as he always does – but there was also a desire to point out a few home truths to his readership, gently forcing us to reflect upon our relationship with the world around us.

It would have been easy for this stage adaptation to shy away from that aspect; to focus purely on entertaining audiences with an exciting jungle adventure. But, true to its author's intent, Running Wild the show also has something important to say – and it says it well, with no sledgehammers involved.

Inspired by the true story of a child whose life was saved by an elephant during the 2004 tsunami, Morpurgo takes her tale a stage further by plunging the young girl into a world far from her London home. For months on end, Lilly survives in the jungle, befriended by the aforementioned elephant and a plethora of orangutans. A tough existence, yes, but one which Lilly seems very at home with – until a team of poachers arrives to threaten her, and everyone else's existence.

At the heart of this play, lies a moving story of love, loss and resilience in the face of change. Not just for the human characters, but the animals and habitat surrounding them. With such powerful source material, the Running Wild team had much to live up to – but the strong ensemble cast, excellent puppetry (designed by the same formidable team behind War Horse), imaginative direction and set design, all do more than enough to make Morpurgo proud.

Seen at King's Theatre, Edinburgh. Running Wild tours the UK throughout May and June.

Running Wild

  • Directed by: Timothy Sheader, Dale Rooks
  • Written by: Samuel Adamson (adapt), Michael Morpurgo (book)

Samuel Adamson's adaptation of the novel by Michael Morpurgo about a young girl on holiday in in Indonesia when a tsunami hits. Featuring fantastic puppets designed by Finn Caldwell and Toby Olié (War Horse).

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