Director: Sally Cookson
Reviewer: Bethan Highgate-Betts
From the director of The National Theatre’s 2016 production of Peter Pan and countless other family theatre favourites Sally Cookson comes We’re Going on a Bear Hunt. Adapted from the book of the same name by Children’s Laureate Michael Rosen, this is a story that a lot of children are already familiar with and one that they will delighted to see come to life on stage before their eyes.
Join Dad, Son, Daughter, Baby and Buddy the dog as they journey through rivers, mud, snow storms and creepy forests on the familiar hunt for a big brown bear. With charming call backs to the original text, their journey is peppered with songs and music that breathes life into the children’s classic. There’s dancing, painting and even a couple of water pistols along the way, making for a highly entertaining show. With the characters first checking with the audience as to what a bear actually looks like, once they’ve gathered the facts, they start their adventure and begin searching for clues to the bear’s whereabouts.
The four performers give energetic and engaging performances. With Louis Gulliver King standing out for his abundantly energetic turn as Buddy the family’s over-enthusiastic dog and the musician, playing the live score throughout from the side of the stage. A variety of instruments brings together the musical narration and has the family and the audience dancing and singing along. With the infectiously catchy songs knitting together this chaotic production, and always providing a familiar point of return when the plot is lost in the energy of the performers (and the audience).
A beautiful set designed by Katie Sykes provides the perfect base for the family’s adventures. Painted backdrops and quirky props that are not only familiar to the audience but also to the illustrations of the original story by Helen Oxenbury. With imagination at the centre of this 50-minute show, highly visual puppetry and dance bring to life each situation the adventurous family find themselves in. From buckets becoming a river to bedsheets acting as a snow storm, the theme of play with household objects is one that runs throughout.
With lots of laughs along the way, little ones giggling throughout, completely engrossed as soon as the four performers step on stage. Shouting and singing is actively encouraged and this adds to the sense that the audience is really going along on the family’s journey, not just watching it unfold.
A playful delight, We’re Going On A Bear Hunt puts imagination centre stage and invites little people and big people alike to get carried away on their adventure.
Runs until 26 March 2017 and then continuing to tour | Image: Contributed