Review – We’re Going On A Bear Hunt

Nov 12 2009 | By More


King’s Theatre
Review by Thom Dibdin

SWISHY swashy grass, splashy sploshy water and squelchy, squerchy mud are all present and very much correct in this touring adaptation of the children’s picture book, We’re Going On A Bear Hunt, which is at the King’s Theatre until Saturday 14th.

The book, beautifully illustrated by Helen Oxenbury with Michael Rosen’s version of the children’s game repetitive in all the right ways, is treasured by millions of kids and their parents. Trifle with it at your peril, then, if you are going to bring it to the stage.

Which makes it hold-your-breath time when you realise that a very full King’s Theatre is about to be treated to a version with a whole character missing…

Yet it doesn’t make much difference. Few will even have noticed. Two kids, a guitar-strumming dog, a life size puppet baby and, of course, dad are quite enough to bring the hunt to life. After all, the really important thing is the simple rhyme at the heart of the book. And the rhyme is exactly as it should be.

So the family set off on their hunt. They are going to catch a big one, it is a beautiful day and they aren’t scared. But oh-oh, what’s this? Grass? They can’t go over it and they can’t go under it. Oh no! It looks as if they are going to have to go through it.

Dad and the two kids leaping through a curtain of thick green shimmering strips, suspended across the stage, might be the simplest of tricks. But it is a genuine, five star visual gag for an audience of this age – and enough to send the whole auditorium into raptures of uninhibited, utterly delighted hilarity.

The next barrier, a deep cold river, takes a bit more setting up. But a few towels, some big blue buckets and watering cans full of water later, and the stage is set. Not to mention the judiciously placed water-pistols wielded by the ushers.

Grannies who had recently visited the hairdresser no doubt thought the episode very silly. Their charges, however, were bouncing up and down in their seats at the sheer delight of it all. And they had a point – this is theatre which doesn’t just affect the eyes and the ears – it reaches out and makes you wet as well.

Great stuff, but the rest of the show doesn’t live up to the opening. The mud is good – and greeted with glee – but a cardboard box forest seems a bit lame and the snowstorm is a great idea that needs more work.

All told, it is a satisfying hour – which is pitched exactly right for the over-three age group it is aimed at. But it is one which uses its best ideas in the opening scenes and rather meanders to its conclusion.

Run continues to Saturday 14
Box Office: 0131 529 6000

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Comments (2)

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  1. Duska says:

    Did Cora review this one too?

  2. admin says:

    Oh yes… Her comments have been taken into account! She loves the repetition of the original, so the songs and rhymes were right up her street.