REVIEW | Michael Morpurgo’s ‘Running Wild’ UK Tour

Straight to the point, this show is a faultless masterpiece.


The story originates from a true story that Michael Morpurgo adapted for one of his renowned novels. The story has now been adapted further to deliver this extraordinary theatrical tale.

I did have the pleasure of gaining a backstage pass to a sneak preview of ‘Oona‘ the Elephant many months ago at London’s Hackney Empire and so I was fully aware of the scale that this production would be but I was still, somehow, blown away last night.


The story begins with the loss of young Lilly’s father. It then progresses with Lilly and her mother taking a trip to Indonesia that quickly takes a turn for the worse. A devastating Tsunami hits the shore whilst Lilly is taking a ride on Oona the Elephant. Sensing disaster, Oona runs for safety towards the rainforest, separating poor Lilly from her mother (who sadly doesn’t make it). So, Lilly’s lonesome adventure in the rainforest begins…


Timothy Sheader and Dale Rooks direction is magical and manages to capture every possible emotion that the piece offers with ease. Paul Wills‘ abstract scenery greatly enhances the fine work of the directors; helping our minds be transported to the devastation on the Indonesian land with ease.


Most people have to travel half way around the world to hear the breath taking sounds of the rainforest. However, with this performance you only need to visit the theatre and let this exceptionally talented cast bring the rainforest to you. All members of the company add a different dimension to the sounds of the performance right from birds flying by to Oona emptying her bowels.  

'Running Wild' Play performed at the Open Air Theatre, Regent's Park, London, UK

Finn Caldwell and Toby Olié for Gyre & Gimble are the backbone of this production with thanks to their beautifully crafted puppets that range from spectacular sparkly fishes to a fiercely frightening Tiger. Not forgetting the star of the show, Oona the Elephant. A bunch of unsung puppeteers work together to bring these special puppets to life with exceptional and captivating results. I really cannot put in to words how wonderful they actually are, you have to go and see this production to believe it

A young boy sat behind me and gasped at Oona’s entrance and later I overheard him ask his mother ‘Is that a real tiger?’ and I can completely understand why. The lifelike resemblance is a testament to the work of Gyre & Gimble.


Running Wild is a production full of raw emotion and epic storytelling with breath taking theatrical delivery. With viewers captivated throughout. It was a real pleasure to watch and my family all thoroughly enjoyed the show.

The only disappointment, I feel, has to be that the theatre was a third empty. This is a show that is simply perfect as an introduction to theatre or a memorable family night out. A show like this does not come around often so make sure you are one of the lucky ones that gets to see this. The cast definitely deserve a full theatre at every performance.

★★★★★ ‘A Faultless Masterpiece of Theatrical Heaven’

Running Wild UK Tour –


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