We’re Going on a Bear Hunt

Adapted by Peter Glanville and Barb Jungr from the book by Michael Rosen illustrated by Helen Oxenbury
Little Angel Theatre
Stratford Circus (Circus 1)

We’re Going on a Bear Hunt Credit: Puppets by Lyndie Wright
We’re Going on a Bear Hunt Credit: Puppets byLyndie Wright
We’re Going on a Bear Hunt Credit: Puppets by Lyndie Wright

Dad and Lizzie, Gilbert, Jessie and little Bertie and their dog are out for the day on a big adventure. “We’re going on a bear hunt,” they sing. “We are going to catch a big one. What a beautiful day! We’re not scared.”

They set of from home and have to make their way through marshy reeds where the ground's all squishy-squashy. They have to wade across a river (it is so deep that Bertie has to swim).

They have to cross sticky mud and get it all over themselves, then find a way through a forest until at last they reach a dark, dark cave—and yes, there is a bear, and it is a big one! But they are scared—well, wouldn’t you be?

It is a simple story following their journey and then running home again with the bear behind them. It is simply and directly told with songs and dialogue and the young children it is aimed at love it.

Little Angel suggests that it is suitable for anyone from two up and I saw it with an audience packed with nursery and infant school parties. There is just enough of the repetition that younger children enjoy but not too much to put off those slightly older.

With catchy tunes to Barb Jungr’s songs, a quartet of puppeteers who can switch to being live performers when that works best and the delightful puppets designed by Lyndie Wright, a favourite children’s book springs to life.

There are attractive sets by Simon Plumridge that take the children to each location and disappear into the darkness as the action moves in front of the puppet stage or attention focuses on a singing guitarist to be magically quite different when the lights go up again.

There is a particularly delightful sequence with fish and ducks above and below the water and little Bertie swimming (mums in the audience might be concerned about how they got their clothes dry but the children don’t seem worried).

There is a great big bear—he does come close but he’s not really too frightening, just like a teddy bear really, though I suspect the children’s favourite (and certainly mine) is the family collie dog, a delightful creation, all barks and yaps and growls and beautifully manipulated.

Louisa Ashton, Katherine Moraz, Gilbert Taylor and George Williams are the puppeteer / performers and they are very good ones. You may be able to see the operators almost all the time but you don’t notice: you are so concentrated on watching the characters they make seem so real.

Though aimed at younger ages, older siblings don’t have to be left at home. They should also enjoy it; it is such fun to watch.

Reviewer: Howard Loxton

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