This was the case for most of the audience at Sally Cookson’s adaptation playing in The West End until September.
Rosen’s story tells of a Dad and his young children going on a hunt through grass, river, mud, snowstorms and forests to get to a cave, potentially the home of the eponymous bear. They constantly remind themselves ‘We’re not scared!” as they relish every obstacle they come across.
This production was an absolute joy from start to finish.
The whole cast were brilliantly engaging performers who belted out catchy songs, danced energetic jigs and spent the whole hour playing mischievously. Thos Wainwright’s ‘Dad’ was sturdy yet silly, ‘Boy’ and ‘Girl’ played by Joey Hickman and Rebecca Newman were both loveable and cheeky and a real stand out performance came from Benjamin Hills who played ‘Buddy the Dog.’ That wasn’t the only thing he played, Hills also took on the accordion, guitar, drums, kazoo, keyboard and had the most beautiful singing voice, all whilst believably maintaining his doggy character.
There was a lot of effortless talent on stage but not one performer took themselves seriously and it was totally infectious.
The audience of little faces were hanging on every word and never stopped engaging in the action. Creativity blossomed throughout the show with every natural element being represented in an ingenious fashion. Blue buckets and water pistols became a believable river, cardboard boxes made a daunting forest and there was a surprise during the snowstorm that had the audience squeal with delight. The actors obviously had no fear, especially during ‘the mud sequence.’ Every element of Katie Sykes’ design was well thought out and delivered perfectly.
The whole piece had so much energy and playfulness but didn’t shy away from quieter moments. There was a lovely scene involving butterflies which calmed the action right down to lullaby level, aided by Hill’s smooth scatting. The pay off at the end of the hunt was exactly what was needed, an element of scare but nothing too traumatising for little ones with big imaginations.