We're Going on a Bear Hunt
Adapted from the picture book by Michael Rosen with illustrations by Helen Oxenbury
The Corn Exchange, Newbury, and touring
The Corn Exchange had a host of performances for children for the schools' half term. The foyer was filled with eager excited youngsters with their mums, dads and grandparents all prepared and equipped for a big adventure because We're Going On A Bear Hunt.
Michael Rosen's award winning picture book, with illustrations by Helen Oxenbury, has been lovingly brought to the stage in a fun-filled adaption that delighted the audience. Benji Bower's lively and witty score added the musical dimension with Benjamin Harrison playing a variety of instruments from a kazoo to an accordion as well as doubling up as a very convincing dog.
The talented cast - Duncan Foster as Dad, Jessica Pidsley as the daughter and Richard De Winter as the son, and a delightful baby, in the form of a puppet that captivated the audience - quickly established empathy with the young audience as they built up an image of what a bear looked liked and had them make butterflies with their hands.
There was oodles of audience participation as the kids joined in with the story repeating the rhyme, "We can't go under it, we can't go over it, we've got to go through it".
And so we were all off on a great expedition, through the swishy-swashy grass. The river was created with coloured towels and blue plastic buckets and the actors splish-splish splashed through it with the kids clapping along and getting a soaking from the cast in true panto style.
The thick oozy mud was terrific fun with the actors creating handprints on large wheeled boards and ended up covering each other in muddy handprints that kept the kids laughing.
There was a very effective snowstorm that drew gasps from the audience and in the end we found the bear and it really wasn't that scary.
Sally Cookson's lively direction kept the action moving at a great pace and everyone ended up singing the bear hunt song. This was great family entertainment, the perfect treat: "What a beautiful day. We're not scared".
Reviewer: Robin Strapp