The Garden of Rikki Tikki Tavi

By Y York
Adapted from the story by Rudyard Kipling
Directed by Rita Giomi

Rudyard Kipling’s classic tale comes alive in this funny, colorful adaptation by prize-winning playwright Y York. This sweet story of friendship and cooperation takes place in an exotic Indian garden and tells the charming tale of an unusual friendship between an innocent baby mongoose (the hero, Rikki), a vain and bossy bird, and a dear but befuddled muskrat. Through the shared danger of facing Nag, the sneaky cobra, these unlikely comrades find that they are smarter, braver and more resourceful together, and that a strong home makes room for everyone. 

If your family enjoyed A Year with Frog and Toad and likes being transported to mysterious lands, The Garden of Rikki Tikki Tavi will appeal to you.

ASL Interpreted Dates:
Public - Saturday, 10/25, 2:00
Schools - Thursday, 10/23

Age Recommendation: For Ages 5+

Discussion Topics: Trust, Honesty, Sharing, Exotic Animals

Running Time: 60 minutes, no intermission

Press Release:Sct Rikki Tikki Tavi Press Release

Offstage: An Active Audience Guide — The Garden of Rikki Tikki Tavi

Parking at Seattle Center

Bus Parking at Seattle Center

Be warned: This is a complete synopsis of the play, so it is full of spoilers.

On a bright sunny day in India, Darzee the tailorbird enjoys the garden home she is proud to call all her own. Alarmed by snoring, she awakens a young mongoose who, startled, cries out “rikki tikki, rikki tikki.” After Darzee calms her down, the mongoose introduces herself as Rikki Tikki Tavi. Rikki cannot quite explain her arrival. She remembers, “Dark, wet, whoosh, can’t see, floating and floating, land here, sleep, wake up.” She knows she is lost and misses her cozy burrow, but she is delighted to find a “best friend” in Darzee. Darzee does not want to be friends with Rikki and tries to convince Rikki to leave. But Rikki has learned from her mother that every mongoose needs a garden to make perfect. She has found hers!

Darzee tries to make the garden seem unappealing, but Rikki loves it. Darzee warns her of Nag the cobra who sometimes comes to the garden. Rikki says she loves cobra—in her mother’s dinner casseroles. But Rikki has never seen a live cobra and she is terrified by Darzee’s description. Then Teddy, the child of the human family who owns the garden, comes in whistling. Rikki thinks he is the cobra and cowers as Teddy pets her. Darzee calls Teddy her “pet” and explains she has trained the child to come into the garden to feed her. Trying to corner all the food and scare Rikki away, she claims that Teddy’s bread crumbs will poison Rikki and Teddy’s petting will kill her. However, Rikki cannot resist the candy Teddy offers. Rikki and Teddy leave to continue what each believes is training the other.

Chuchu the muskrat then pokes in hoping to eat the leftover crumbs. Darzee claims that all Teddy’s crumbs went to the new mongoose. She convinces Chuchu they need a  plan to get rid of Rikki. Chuchu suggests they scare her away with a cobra—Chuchu has the old skin that Nag recently shed. He sometimes puts it on and hisses because he wants to be scary, even though wearing it scares Chuchu so much that he has to close his eyes. He offers to dress up in the skin to frighten Rikki away. Amazed that  Chuchu has a good idea, Darzee approves and Chuchu leaves to get disguised.

Meanwhile Nag comes hissing into the garden. Darzee thinks it is just Chuchu pretending to be the cobra. Darzee grows alarmed when Nag talks of eating birds and everyone else, including Teddy. Chuchu comes back, and Darzee realizes her mistake. Just as Nag prepares to strike them, Rikki returns. Seeing the cobra, she emits her battle cry of “rikki tikki, rikki tikki.” Nag, knowing that a mongoose can kill cobras, slithers away.

Darzee and Chuchu, now understanding Rikki’s value to the garden and to themselves, beg her to stay and protect them. But Rikki, who has had no training in how to fight a cobra, is determined to leave—until Darzee says Nag threatened to kill Teddy! Rikki resolves to stay until she has made the garden safe for the pet. She decides to learn how to kill Nag on her own. Darzee suggests she practice on Chuchu dressed in Nag’s old skin.

While they leave to get the skin, Nag enters the garden to look for a place to hide his precious nest of eggs. Although he accidentally drops one egg, and then eats it, he finds a safe place in the bushes, hides the rest and leaves.

Rikki, Chuchu and Darzee come back with Nag’s skin to practice killing a cobra. They are very hungry and look around for crumbs from Teddy that might be scattered among the bushes. Darzee finds Nag’s egg nest. Rikki and Chuchu are overjoyed—eggs, their favorite food! Believing them to be bird eggs, Darzee describes all the love and attention birds put into caring for their young. She makes Rikki and Chuchu promise to never eat a bird egg.

Darzee is surprised when Chuchu and Rikki reveal that this nest is on the ground. Examining them closely, they realize these eggs come not from a bird but from a snake! Rikki and Chuchu gobble them down. Leaving one egg uneaten, they push the nest back under the bushes.

Chuchu puts on the cobra skin to help Rikki practice, but scares himself so badly that he has to take it off. Rikki asks to put it on and Darzee sews it on tight. Teddy comes with food but thinks Rikki is Nag and runs away, frightened. Rikki  tries to keep Chuchu from eating the crumbs Teddy dropped as he fled, believing they are poison to all animals except birds. After Chuchu reveals the truth, Rikki realizes that Darzee was lying to her about them being poisoned. Then Nag arrives. He mistakes the disguised Rikki for another cobra. He hypnotizes Darzee and offers her to Rikki as a meal. He also offers to share the garden with Rikki if she will help him kill a certain young mongoose. Rikki’s reluctance to eat Darzee and awkwardness in performing the cobra dance arouse Nag’s suspicions. Nag recognizes his stolen skin and Rikki takes it off, revealing herself as the young mongoose. Rikki emits her battle cry, but instead of retreating, Nag readies to strike. It looks like Rikki was right—she’s too young to defeat a cobra. Then Chuchu surprises Darzee with another good idea. Taking Nag’s last remaining egg from the nest, Chuchu threatens to destroy it unless Nag swears to leave the
garden and the island forever. Nag agrees and slithers away with his solitary egg.

Rikki and Chuchu congratulate each other on making the garden safe from Nag. Remembering how often Darzee has cheated her, Rikki is ready to look for another home. But Darzee wants her to stay. She swears not to fool Rikki anymore and to share everything, even her nest, with Rikki. Rikki happily agrees to stay with her two friends.

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