Friday, 9 October 2009

We're Going On A Bear Hunt - Theatre Royal, Newcastle

We’re Going On A Bear Hunt
Writer: Michael Rosen
Adaptor & Director: Sally Cookson
Reviewer: Steve Burbridge

Direct from its success in the West End this summer, Sally Cookson’s stage adaptation of ‘We’re Going On A Bear Hunt’ by Children’s Laureate Michael Rosen is brought vividly, noisily and colourfully to life on stage at the Theatre Royal, Newcastle.

Rosen wrote the Smarties Book Prize Winner in 1989, inspired by an American summer camp song. The story tells of a family’s intrepid expedition in their quest to find a wild bear. Aimed at children aged 3 and above, the show is a fantastic fifty five minutes of fun and frolics that is a terrific treat for even the tiniest of tots.

The action combines all the things that kids love – the great outdoors, nature and discovery – as the five adventurers, comprising father, son, daughter, baby and dog, onomatopoeically explore grassy fields, flowing rivers, muddy swamps, dark forests, swirling snowstorms and creepy caves.

Not only is the story startlingly simple, it is also exciting, entertaining and educational. The recurring title song, from Benji Bower’s quirky score, is catchy and simple enough for the youngsters to remember and join in with.
Colourful sets and costumes, inspired by Helen Oxenbury’s original illustrations and designed by Katie Sykes, ensure that the children are always visually stimulated, too. The atmosphere and mood is further enhanced by Tony Simpson’s lighting and Jason Barnes’ sound, whilst the performances are delivered with energy and enthusiasm from a cast who are supremely comfortable in the art of entertaining little ones.

Judging from the reaction of the children in the audience, ‘We’re Going On A Bear Hunt’ is the perfect production to ensure that kids become hooked, from the earliest possible age, on the eclectic experience that live theatre offers. And that can, surely, only be commendable.

Photo: Bob Workman
Runs until Saturday 10 Oct.
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