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We’re Going on a Bear Hunt review at Lyric Theatre London

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Loved as it is, Michael Rosen’s story of a Dad and his kids and their sheepdog going on a bear hunt through squelchy squerchy mud and much else besides isn’t the longest in my five-year-old’s list of favourites (in fact there’s usually a demand for a supplementary story on Bear Hunt nights round my way).

But in Sally Cookson’s brilliantly inventive and engaging production, the tale is stretched out on a simple stage without being distorted or harmed. Accompanied by Benji Bower’s upbeat and catchy tunes, the cast bring each part of the adventure – river, forest, mud flat and snowstorm – to vivid life and with immense economy and imagination. The river crossing is skilfully evoked with some tubs of water, while the mud crossing involves some delightfully mucky painting. This makes the dramatic arrival of a ‘snowstorm’ which envelops the audience all the more dramatic.

The look is faithful to Helen Oxenbury’s beautiful illustrations from the book although each character is fleshed out with just enough detail to bring them to life. So Duncan Foster’s likable Dad is a child-like adventurer, but one whose children are not averse to mocking while the latter bring the naughtiness of the illustrations to life. Ben Harrison, who also plays the music, is a particularly engaging dog.

I also loved the prosthetic baby whose wobbly head and funny expression made it almost cuter than the real thing; but of course the coup de grace has to be the bear, and this one – not too scary, not too silly just silly enough – is worth waiting for.

Production Information

Lyric Theatre, London, July 3-September 8

Author
Michael Rosen (adaptation by Sally Cookson)
Director
Sally Cookson
Producer
KW and NB Ltd
Cast
Duncan Foster, Rowena Lennon, Gareth Warren, Ben Harrison, Gavin Swift
Running time
55mins

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