Inspired by the true story of 17-year-old Juliane Koepcke, who miraculously survived a plane crash and a fall from 10,000 ft, Her Green Hell is a reimagination of her physical and emotional journey through the Peruvian rainforest. Combining physical theatre and puppetry, this production from TheatreGoose is a spellbinding account of loss, humility and resilience.
Juliane finds herself lost, injured and alone, but as the daughter of two zoologists she knows what to do. Brilliantly played by Sophie Kean, she begins her vivid, dreamlike, at times disorientating journey through the jungle, at one with the simple but versatile set which, together with the audiovisuals, effectively brings the environment to life. There’s a constant sense of movement as Kean, using carefully selected props, depicts the crashing plane, her mind racing at night, and the Amazon rainforest and its inhabitants.
It’s a horrendous story that still manages to be funny in places and remarkably upbeat. Juliane’s survival instinct is palpable and carries the audience through the adrenaline-fuelled days, when she keeps pain and trauma at bay, towards the rescue we believe is coming but feels far from certain.
The language a bit frilly at times, which is unnecessary in a play with so much else going for it, but it’s an otherwise excellent script by Emma Howlett. Together with Kean’s dramaturgy, it forges a heartfelt love letter to Juliane’s mother, fellow passengers, rescuers, and the jungle that changed her forever.