The Everywhere Bear review at Polka Theatre, London – ‘understated inventiveness’
When it comes to children’s shows, it’s hard to go wrong with one based on a book by Julia Donaldson.
Only just out of press in 2017, The Everywhere Bear is a fanciful story of an unlikely hero – a school class toy bear, whose purpose it is to go on adventures with individual pupils at weekends. His greatest adventure, told on this occasion, is one that follows when the Everywhere Bear falls out of a little boy’s backpack on his way back to school one Monday morning.
Peter Glanville’s adaptation makes the best of Donaldson’s special brand of verse – a joyful and expert blend of the lyrical and the entertaining. The show is mostly held together by Julian Butler’s versatile music score, making this two-hander one of the most elaborate musicals outside the West End.
Performers Daniel Harlock and Amy Tweed rise to the challenge beautifully. There is puppetry in the show too, bringing Rebecca Cobb’s original illustrations to life, and some fabulous cross-dressing for extra effect. Glanville uses the whole set to a great effect, embedding discrete and helpful animations into its nooks and crannies to bring all of the 3-6 year olds on board with the storytelling. The show’s understated inventiveness never leaves the parents bored either.
The production’s only possible downside is that it is almost entirely risk-free. Being a story about how all stories have happy endings, it never offers warnings or asks questions about real life itself; but then maybe three-to-six year olds need escapism too.
We need your help…
When you subscribe to The Stage, you’re investing in our journalism. And our journalism is invested in supporting theatre and the performing arts.
The Stage is a family business, operated by the same family since we were founded in 1880. We do not receive government funding. We are not owned by a large corporation. Our editorial is not dictated by ticket sales.
We are fully independent, but this means we rely on revenue from readers to survive.
Help us continue to report on great work across the UK, champion new talent and keep up our investigative journalism that holds the powerful to account. Your subscription helps ensure our journalism can continue.