'We're Going on a Bear Hunt' – Little Angel Theatre
It seems no one has escaped from the oh-so-catchy refrain “we’re going on a bear hunt, we’re going to catch a big one” since Michael Rosen’s book was first published in 1989. We’ve been not going over and not going under it for nearly 25 years, and the Little Angel Theatre has decided to celebrate its enduring appeal. With live music and the most adorable bear you’ve ever seen, ‘We Going on a Bear Hunt’ is a fun-for-all show that shouldn’t be missed.
For those somehow unfamiliar with the book, it’s about a family and a dog that go for a walk in the forest, looking for bears. There’s grass, mud and a river to traverse. I won’t ruin the surprise and tell you if they find the bear. For those who are familiar with the simple story, this is a slightly adapted version. Barb Jungr has set the obstacles to music, with a particularly catchy mud song that will stay in your head for the rest of the day (and the kids’ heads for the rest of the week).
The wooden rod puppets – beautifully crafted by the Little Angel team – are based on the book’s original illustrations by Helen Oxenbury. As well as the principal cast, there’s an array of owls, butterflies and fishes that enhance the ever-changing scenery. Through some sort of black magic, four expert puppeteers alone manage to operate all the puppets, while also changing sets and playing live music. The transitions are seamless.
The puppets don’t have fixed puppeteers. The dog, for example, has a different quality of ‘woof’ each time his manipulator changes. Far from being distracting, this duplicity brings depth to the characters, which is so often lacking in children’s theatre.
‘We’re Going on a Bear Hunt’ is wonderfully nostalgic for those who remember it from their childhoods, and is exciting and engaging for young children to enjoy today. Perfectly timed at 45 minutes long, it’s a staple summer watch. I'm certainly going to catch a big one.
A Little Angel Theatre production, based on the book by Michael Rosen
Adapted by Barb Jungr and Peter Glanville
Music and Lyrics by Barb Jungr
Directed by Peter Glanville
Puppet Design by Lyndie Wright
Set Design by Simon Plumridge