Michael Morpurgo’s Kensuke’s Kingdom is a beautiful adaptation of a story which captures a child’s imagination. When Michael’s parents decide redundancy is the motivation to set off sail around the world, not even grandma’s warnings deter.
Following dad’s dream, with mum as captain of the yacht, the family including Stella the dog set sail. Their adventures see them visit South America, Africa and Australia. Of course, disaster strikes. As the waves batter their ship one night, so Michael and Stella find themselves washed up on a deserted island. Deserted but for Kensuke, a Japanese veteran who has no intent of ever leaving the island.
As Michael, Aaron Douglas brings a tender determination to the role. Creating convincing relationships within family life, the real beauty of the adaptation of Michael Morpurgo’s Kensuke’s Kingdom is in the interaction between actor and puppets. In this production, puppets take the roles of Stella, Kensuke and the island’s orangutans- Kikanbo and Michiya. Each beautifully designed and made by Adam Small and Kiera Quigley. Somehow, the puppets add even more magic to the story.
Gabriella Margulies’s control of Stella enables so many of the familiar nuances of a dog’s energy to be felt. Alongside the orangutans there is tenderness brought from the interaction of animals with humans. As Kensuke, James Jip creates the persona of someone living in (self-determined) exile whilst allowing the caring nature of this husband and father to be created.
The play is a successful book adaptation, Stuart Patterson has translated themes which appeal to children and adults in different measure. Whilst Clancy Flynn’s set would benefit from a larger performance space, it awakes the imagination of the audience in its various settings.
Michael Morpurgo’s Kensuke’s Kingdom is perfectly pitched for audiences of 7 and over. The production evokes the imagination of its audience in the most wonderful adventures.
Michael Morpurgo’s Kensuke’s Kingdom is at the Pleasance Courtyard as part of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. You can catch the production at 12.30 until Monday 27th August 2018.
Disclosure: We have media accreditation for the Edinburgh Fringe. All views and opinions contained are our own.