A Dzsungel Könyve — The Jungle Book

Despite the cool weather and Kelly being sicker than a dog, we managed to find our way out to Vörösmarty tér, site of the Budapest Christmas Market. Patience, grasshopper — we’ll get to that in a post next week. Anyway, about a two-minute walk from the food shops at the Christmas market is the Pesti Színház, a playhouse where we were to meet Adri and see Dzsungel Könyve, known in English as The Jungle Book.

Yes, the play was in Hungarian. No, there were not subtitles. And you know what? I was okay with that. 🙂

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Overall, I was quite impressed with the performance, possibly more than I was with Rómeó és Júliá, which we’d seen back in September. The stage was much smaller than in the Operetta Theatre, but it was utilized very well. The set was complex for such a tiny space.

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I do certainly have to speak for a moment about the efficacy of action over words — as I said before, there were no subtitles and the entire musical was in Hungarian. Now, I’ve been taking Hungarian language for a whole semester, but I make no claim to be able to understand that much. However, I would rather have seen this play without the subtitles anyway. A combination of what Hungarian I do know and very, very good acting made for a fantastic performance that kept its essence regardless of whether I exactly understood every single word. The dances were synchronized and the acting so expressive that it conveyed “unspoken” words by itself.

On a similar note, the costumes were great. They allowed for a lot of individuality by not obscuring the actors’ faces with paint or accessories while still clearly conveying which animals they were. The velvety blackness of Bagheera’s coat suits a panther well, and the bald head of Ka made him seem more snakelike.

As for the actors themselves….

Award for “Most Impressive Actor” goes to Méhes László as Ka. 

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This guy was great. As I’m sure you can imagine, it’s difficult for a human-shaped person to play the role of a snake, but he did it flawlessly. His voice was creepy and quite snakelike without being overly “hissy,” and I can honestly say I’ve never seen someone sing while hanging upside down on a rock face. As in, he was suspending himself with only the strength of his arms upside down parallel to a rock while still singing very well as if nothing had happened. I was excited to see him every time he came back on stage.

Award for “Most Anticipated Character” goes to Molnár Áron as Shere Khan.

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He looked great, and he sounded evil, but I feel like a lot of the conflict between him and Moegli was downplayed in favor of him exerting power on a wider scale to influence those around Moegli. I never really felt that Moegli was very threatened by him (or at least not at threatened as he should be).

Award for “Only Disappointing at First” goes to Bagheera.

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I can certainly say that I was surprised when Bagheera showed up, as (at least in the American version), she is actually a “he.” However, I know that in some versions (the Russian one comes to mind), Bagheera is animated as a female. So it only really threw me off for a second, but as I focused in on watching her, I became disappointed in her acting and in the way she interacted with Baloo. They acted a little too much like friends to me. However, Baloo himself had some character changes that were not typical of the regular Jungle Book story, which explained Bagheera’s behavior. After Baloo disappeared from the play, Bagheera really began to grow on me. She was great at acting (if a little too dramatic sometimes), but by the end of the play I really appreciated her.

Award for “Most Spastic Character” goes to…um….HER. All the way on the left.

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This woman was spastic, man. Bipolar, almost. I loved her. 🙂

*****

It was a lot of fun, so thanks again to Adri for snatching some tickets for us and for recommending the show!

Check out a short video highlight of the show here: (http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=22Tl0eefVXE).

Also, if you’re interested, check out what Adri says is the most famous song from the musical, Szavakat Keresek, here: (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z4kiZzNrdns).

Hopefully there are many more musicals and theater shows in store for all of us! 🙂

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