Who’s scared of bears? Certainly not the kids sitting next to me at this stage adaptation of Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury’s children’s classic. They were practically jumping in the stalls in anticipation of the furry beast.
The picture book is clearly still a favourite 24 years after it was published – most of my fellow audience members knew all the rhythmical, onomatopoeic lines from beginning to end. And director Sally Cookson brings the beguiling magic alive in this production, which arrives in the West End after an international tour.
It combines some charming, often makeshift production values with the occasional more sophisticated stage surprise. The swishy swashy grass, the river and the mud are all created onstage by the four performers from strips of green paper, blue towels and buckets and brown paint, which gets everywhere.
There’s a lot of slightly anarchic audience interaction and participation, including helping to work out what a bear looks like, singing along and getting rather wet in a water fight.
The show is aimed at kids over three and primary school children but those in the later primary years might find it a little boring – not an awful lot happens, after all.
Still though, the relaxed performers are wonderfully entertaining, making this a great hour of song, dance and fun. Ages 3+.
By Daisy Bowie-Sell