Review: We’re Going on a Bear Hunt Live on Stage

The cast of We're Going on a Bear Hunt Live. © Lesley Cook Headshots

This is going to sound very middle class indeed, but I love going to the theatre! Kate does too so it’s natural that we’re keen for the kids to enjoy it as well. It was an easy decision, then, when we were invited to a performance of We’re Going on a Bear Hunt Live on Stage.

The show took place at the Devonshire Park Theatre in nearby Eastbourne. A lovely, family-friendly venue that I always enjoy visiting.

The show is, of course, based on the classic children’s book by Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury. Following on from a massively successful West End debut and international tour, it promised much.

In addition, Both Dylan and Xander are more than a little familiar with the story. I was confident that they would enjoy it.

Two boys outside a theatre.

And enjoy it they most certainly did. It was a brilliant and faithful adaptation of the much-loved original. The minimalist set allowed the action to quite literally take centre stage, while still establishing a fitting atmosphere.

The youthful enthusiasm of the storytelling – and, indeed, of the actors – was infectious. I had a big grin on my face for the whole 55-minute performance. When I looked round, the same could be said of everyone else in the auditorium.

As well as the evocative language of the original book and music that captures the excitement of a summery day out, the story is also brought to life by other means. As the image below shows, the audience gets to experience the splishy, splashy river!

I should point out that there was more laughter than water in the audience at this point. And fret not. The thick, oozy, squelchy mud stays firmly on the stage.

The cast of We're Going on a Bear Hunt Live. © Lesley Cook Headshots

As you would expect from a family production, there’s also some friendly interaction with the audience. I always think that breaking the illusory fourth wall is a great way of nurturing a love for live performances among children. Particularly these days.

It’s something that screen-based entertainment can’t do nearly as well. If at all. Children soon learn to ignore fellow explorer Dora’s questions. This is because she’ll carry on regardless of what they say!

This serves to remind that live entertainment is the original interactive entertainment. And that it’s here to stay. Much like this classic story that has entertained families for approaching 30 years.

This was an inventive, funny and warm production that we all enjoyed immensely. We heartily recommend it!

We’re Going on a Bear Hunt is on tour until September 2017. Running time: 55 minutes. Recommended age: three plus.

Production photos: © Lesley Cook Headshots.

Disclosure: we received complimentary tickets for the performance.

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