WITH a small cast on a little stage with a scaled back set and minimal props, you might say the team behind the Jungle Book had the 'bare necessities'.

But that is part of the charm of watching a performance at the multi award-winning Grosvenor Park Open Air Theatre.

Following the news of the government’s 'roadmap', organisers at Chester's Storyhouse wasted no time in announcing plans for an extended season – meaning the theatre will be open until the end of August with 110 reduced capacity shows.

Attending a Grosvenor Park performance feels special under any circumstances because you watch a story unfold 'in the round' and essentially outdoors. There is nothing else quite like it in Cheshire.

You can sit there and enjoy a picnic and it just makes the experience a little more informal and particularly inclusive for families.

But it also just felt remarkable to be watching a play performed in front of our eyes after all the lockdowns and restrictions. It had been a long while since I was last at a theatre and I relished being back.

You could sense that joy among the performers too. You can only imagine the trials people in the arts have been through to get to this point.

A mischievous monkey

A mischievous monkey

So to be watching a colourful and playful show like The Jungle Book felt like a milestone as much as an afternoon out.

Glyn Maxwell’s adaptation of the Kipling classic sees Baloo and Bagheera guide Mowgli – reimagined as a young girl – through the laws of the jungle in a bid to protect, particularly from Shere Khan.

She also gets caught up in the antics of the naughty monkeys and under the spell of sly snake Kaa.

The actors just gave a sense of the animals they were portraying through carefully chosen outfits and body language rather than just playing dress up.

This worked really well. For example, panther Bagheera looked proud and sleek, Baloo the bear was gruff but playful and Shere Khan's scowl was scary enough without the tiger-like stripes.

There was also plenty of lively music and hilarious little touches like the Mancunian and Liverpudlian vultures arguing over the story.

And the small and multi-talented cast worked extremely hard – with performers at one point swapping between music and stage roles in a heartbeat.

Glyn Maxwell also adapted Grosvenor Park favourites like Alice in Wonderland and Wind in the Willows and this is sure to be another hit with families to get summer swinging.

To book visit grosvenorpark.co.uk