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Families go on a bear hunt in fun Birmingham show - review with pictures

By James Driver-Fisher | Theatre & Comedy | Published:

“We’re going on a bear hunt, we’re going to catch a big one.”

Bear Hunt West End cast...Credit: Lesley Cook

We all know the much-loved tale but I was intrigued to see how exactly they were going to transfer the story on to a theatre stage.

Birmingham Town Hall was a hive of families still well and truly in the Christmas spirit as they crammed in one more surprise for their little ones.

Catching a show after the big day is fast becoming a bit of a tradition in our household and it’s great for my wife, Kelly, and I have a five-year-old daughter who genuinely loves going.

The West End cast of We're Going On A Bear Hunt. Picture by: Lesley Cook

We were treated to The Tiger Who Came To Tea last year but one Annabelle’s absolute favourite stories is We’re Going on a Bear Hunt – a book she can genuinely recite without looking at the words, which I think was probably the same for me when I was growing up.

The story is a timeless classic so when we found out there was a stage version being run in Birmingham, we had to pop along.

After catching the train from Cradley Heath to Snow Hill we headed to the town hall, which really one of the best venues around. That £35 million refurbishment was certainly worth the money.

The West End cast of We're Going On A Bear Hunt. Picture by: Lesley Cook

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The show begins with the actors walking around the audience – it took us a while to work out where the voices were coming from – before they entered the stage to let us all know they were, indeed, going on a bear hunt. Phew, we were in the right place.

As avid fans, we knew they would have to battle grass, forests, water, mud and a cave but how they were going to perform that with a few props remained to be seen.

But when they did put it all together it really was brilliantly done.

The West End cast of We're Going On A Bear Hunt. Picture by: Lesley Cook

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The grass was brought to life using tissue paper, the mud was brown paint, the forest was cardboard boxes and the cave was brought to life by simply dimming the lights.

However, Annabelle’s favourite section was splish, splashing through the water.

The actors put out some blue paper and blue buckets, which were then filled with water.

The West End cast of We're Going On A Bear Hunt. Picture by: Lesley Cook

After removing their socks the walked through them, although the father had to use armbands because he couldn’t swim (he hadn’t had lessons as child, apparently).

It was simplicity itself but it was actually coming up with the idea that was the real genius behind it.

Another question might be, how can they turn a five-minute read into an hour-long show?

The West End cast of We're Going On A Bear Hunt. Picture by: Lesley Cook

The answer was plenty of songs, crowd interaction and even a mini-water fight, where the usher got involved squirting us all with water pistols.

The hour flew by and none of the children were losing interest by the end, which is a huge skill in itself.

I have to say it was probably the best children’s production I’ve seen and it really rounded up of the Christmas celebrations in a wonderful way. We can’t wait to see what’s on next year.

James Driver-Fisher

By James Driver-Fisher

Motorsport journalist and entertainment and food reviewer for the Express & Star and Shropshire Star.

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