Above – Kalieaswari Srinivasan, Nadie Kammallaweera, Prakash Belawadi, Anandavalli, Rajan Velu. Cover – Anandavalli, Kalieaswari Srinivasan, Rajan Velu. Photos – Sriram Jeyaraman

Classic epic theatre, The Jungle and the Sea is a companion piece to Belvoir’s critically acclaimed Counting and Cracking, following the production’s successful tour to Edinburgh and Birmingham in August 2022. It reunites many of the original team and by anybody’s standard is another triumph of theatrical presentation.

A thrilling three hour journey, The Jungle and the Sea delivers exhilarating theatre at cracking pace. Length cannot wither this production nor custom stale its infinite variety of drama, tragedy, comedy, political intrigue and cultural identity.

Commencing with a silent dance, concluding with a haunting lament and spanning a quarter century of upheaval, relocation and reunion, The Jungle and the Sea looks at how the big political picture impacts upon the lives of people, and how easily populist policy can degenerate into genocide, civil war, and the creation of refugees and a swell of diaspora.

Like Counting and CrackingThe Jungle and the Sea bubbles from the turmoil that beset Sri Lanka when populist politics sets Sinhalese against Tamil, dividing a country, fragmenting a family, ransoming reason, depositing a dividend of death, despair and separation. 

Counting and Cracking was written in honour of those who tried to halt Sri Lanka’s descent into civil war. The Jungle and the Sea is written in honour of those who survived the war, and the ways they found to uphold their dignity even when everything else was falling down around them.

A superlative ensemble comprising Anandavalli, Prakash Belawadi, Emma Harvie, Nadie Kammallaweera, Jacob Rajan, Kalieaswari Srinivasan, Rajan Velu and Biman Wimalaratne propel the play with a thrilling synchronicity, most doubling ancillary characters with the same detail and minutiae they imbue their core characters.  Indeed, peerless performances abound, without exception, in this robust and phenomenal cast.

There’s a high octane energy driving this production, a cavalcade of colour and movement, a procession of emotion and intellect, a precise and precious pageant of a play, fuelled by fear and frenzy, nourished by humour and hope. The Jungle and the Sea is an astonishing amalgamation of realism and the magic of pure theatricality with live music accompaniment of strings, percussion and the human voice.

The splendid and inspired use of a revolve sets the space apace, an added dimension of movement and momentum to this spectacular saga of people and democracy displaced. Co written and co directed by S. Shakthidharan and Eamon FlackThe Jungle and the Sea is an object lesson in the organisation of nuanced chaos and the comedy of compassion and community, the creation of a universe bursting with exuberance.

The play is mindful that the road to reconciliation is a rocky one, littered with old enmities, a minefield of malignant memories. It is a road less travelled but navigating it is a necessity if peace is to have a permanent place in the future. 

Enthralling, exciting, playful and thought provoking, The Jungle and the Sea is a must see theatrical event.

Event details

Belvoir and Lingalayam Dance Company present
The Jungle and the Sea
by S. Shakthidharan and Eamon Flack

Directors S. Shakthidharan and Eamon Flack

Venue: Upstairs Theatre | Belvoir St Theatre, Surry Hills NSW
Dates: 12 Nov – 18 Dec 2022
Bookings: belvoir.com.au

Most read Sydney reviews

More from this author