We’re Going on a Bear Hunt at the Lyric Theatre
It’s barely two minutes into the first scene, yet one of the cast has already leapt off the stage to ask rows of excited children to describe the appearance of a bear. This is vital information for the ensuing adventure: We’re Going on a Bear Hunt is a live dramatisation of Michael Rosen’s bestselling picture book, illustrated by Helen Oxenbury, which has been amusing youngsters for over two decades.
There are plenty of surprises to keep everyone engaged as an eager family braves the perils of long swishy grass, a splashy-splashy river, oozing mud, a dark forest, a swirling snowstorm and a gloomy cave in a quest to find a bear. Composer Benji Bower’s original songs use infectious melodies that follow the natural rhythm of the book’s text and it’s easy to sing along to the familiar words: “We’re going on a bear hunt; we’re going to catch a big one; what a beautiful day; we’re not scared!” Indeed, we’re not – this is far too entertaining!
The production has been touring the UK before settling at the Lyric for the summer, and the cast have honed their roles to perfection. Duncan Foster is hilarious as the father and leader of the expedition, alongside the wonderfully expressive Gareth Warren and Rowena Lennon as his children. Actor Ben Harrison is exceptional as the family dog, and his impressive voice and musical skills bring to life many of the songs. The youngest of the bunch, “Baby” is a charming puppet and, as the star of the play’s most endearing scene, a huge hit with the audience.
With its interactive segments, catchy songs, unexpected touches, a fantastic cast and more musical instruments than an orchestra’s storage truck, this is a rip-roaring experience for all the family. At 55 minutes long, the fun runs just long enough to keep kids in their seats and parents needn’t fret about the bear: it’s an adorable, cuddly-looking thing that raises a laugh rather than a wail.
Asking a grinning child, aged four, what they most enjoyed about the show, the answer comes quickly: “All of it! I want to see it again.” Luckily, director Sally Cookson and designer Katie Sykes had the foresight to stage the production using everyday props – like buckets, ribbon, towels and paint – so there’s no excuse not to relive the fun at home.
Photos: Bob Workman
We’re Going on a Bear Hunt is at the Lyric Theatre until 8th September 2013. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.
Watch a trailer for We’re Going on a Bear Hunt here: