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Bear Snores On

  • Theatre, Children's
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Recommended
Bear Snores On, Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre, 2024
Photo: Marc Brenner

Time Out says

4 out of 5 stars

Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre opens early for this extremely funny kids’ show, adapted and directed by Cush Jumbo

For the first time in its 92-year history, Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre has opened its doors in March. And it’s absolutely worth it: the deliciously bonkers, endlessly inventive, and extremely funny ‘Bear Snores On’ is one of the best kids’ shows I’ve seen in an age.

It’s adapted from the picture book of the same name by Karma Wilson and Jane Chapman, which I’ll confess to being unfamiliar with – this is presumably a fairly free adaptation from co-writers and directors Cush Jumbo (yup, that Cush Jumbo) and Katy Sechiari, simply because all picture book adaptations have to get creative when it comes to turning a five-minute read into a one-hour show.

It begins on the OAT lawn, where a bemused gardener tells us that we’ve made a mistake: the theatre is shut for the winter. He wants to eat his lunch in peace, but suddenly a load of animals start pestering him: a hare nicks his sandwich, a mole slurps his juicebox, a bird scatters his apple. He’s not, therefore, in a good mood when the essentially blameless Mouse (Lauren Conroy) turns up - he threatens to sic his cat on her, a snowstorm begins, she runs off into a cave. 

Here’s where the magic really starts. Mouse leads us into the twinkling, grotto-like ‘cave’: I thiiiink it must normally be the OAT’s backstage area, but whatever the case it’s beautiful work from designer Rebecca Brower, who also does the lovely chunky knit costumes. Here, Mouse encounters a slumbering bear… and a steady trickle of delightfully eccentric other animals, including a survivalist Hare (Ashh Blackwood), a desperately needy Badger (Annabel Marlow), and an old skool raver Raven (Albert Graver). Together the fractious posse of beasts argue over a stew and throw a rave, to the sound of Harry Blake’s extremely amusing songs: a hard rocking number from the Hare about how dangerous bears are and an old skool rave banger from Raven about the importance of correctly seasoning stew are the highlights (there is also a very, very amusing deployment of Samuel Barber’s tragic classic ‘Adagio for Strings’). 

Jumbo and Sechiari’s production is filled with lots of lovely flourishes, like the Coldplay-style flashing wristbands the audience wears that flash prettily at key points in the show. But the basic point is that it’s very, very funny, with a ‘Hey Duggee!’-esque loopiness and sense that it’s written for adults as much as kids, and magnificently committed performances from the whole cast. 

On paper ‘Bear Snores On’ looks like an out-of-season curio – but in fact if the shows in the ‘proper‘ season are even half as good as this then we’re in for a classic year.

Andrzej Lukowski
Written by
Andrzej Lukowski


£16.50, £14.50 kids. Runs 1hr
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