The Lowry, Manchester – until Sunday 1st September 2019
Reviewed by Julie Noller
We’re Going on a Bear Hunt…. Hands up if you read those words in your head, chanting! Over the years I have watched many teachers pull out the big story book written by Michael Rosen and illustrated by Helen Oxenbury, to enthral many a young pupil, encouraging them to join in the chants and actions. But for 50 minutes today I was that excited pupil. This isn’t just a show to keep children amused during the long drawn out school holidays but for us oldies too, parents and Grandparents thoroughly enjoyed themselves. This is a fantastic and fun 50 minutes of interaction between actors upon stage and audience. The set is splendidly simplistic yet perfect, the repetitive words and chants, we all join in with. There’s singing and music, light shows, water guns,paint fights in the guise of mud. It is in fact a sensory delight in a quiet and organised manor. It’s not frightening nor loud nor scary. If you’re 5 or 50 you will laugh at the silliness. How an earth do they manage to pack so much in to such a short time? Small chunks that’s how, keeping those with low concentration levels easily amused and entertained, don’t worry about children keeping quiet or even sitting still in their seats. This isn’t a sit still and watch show, it’s full of encouraging songs, mimes and claps.
We’re Going on a Bear Hunt is celebrating it’s 30th Anniversary of being published and 10 years since it’s first UK tour, Adapted and Directed by Sally Cookson along with Benji Bowlers musical score it delights. The set could very well be designed and made from things most of us either have tucked into the garage or in that rainy day craft box. Imagination is a powerful tool and for 50 minutes it’s thrown on stage in bucketfuls (not to be mistaken by the large buckets of water). Those who know the book well, the cast is indeed a small one of just four ( or perhaps 5 because we must count Bear himself) Hannah Donelon is Girl, Artie Godden as Boy, Tim Hibberd as Dad and Benjamin Hills as Dog who equally shows a great talent as musician playing many instruments.
For those looking for an enchanting day out that celebrates mischieviousness then look no further this is an absolute must see for summer fun. That fun doesn’t stop after 50 minutes but be prepared to head out of The Lowry Theatre and into the Lowry Outlet chanting ‘We’re Going on a Bear Hunt…. We’re not scared’ as you seek 11 bears each with their own fact to find. Show your findings to the Bear Hunt Team at the Information Desk to gain your very own certificate. Of course the big cuddly Bear our family find at the end of the story is not one of the Bears you will need to find; but don’t forget to take a few selfies in the Bear chair just by Pier 8.