Adelaide Festival Centre Trust
Dunstan Playhouse
Until 29 Apr 2017

Review by Nikki Gaertner

We’re going on a bear hunt.
We’re going to catch a big one.
What a beautiful day!
We’re not (not not!) scared.

And with that the well-known children’s book, by Michael Rosen (illustrated by Helen Oxenbury) comes to life in an interactive experience for the young and young-at-heart on the Dunstan Playhouse stage!

Based on the West End Production, directed by Sally Cookson (with Marc Parrett on board as the Australian and Associate (UK) Director), and an original score by Benji Bower, this production is full of energy from the small cast, with plenty happening on stage to keep the little ones interested during the 55 minute running time.

Bekki Adams, Eamonn George and Andrew Doyle bring lots of enthusiasm to the stage, and constantly address and interact with the audience, bringing them along on the ride through the various stages of their hunt, getting the young crowd more and excited as they progress closer and closer to the “BEAR”!

Christopher Southall doubles as the onstage musician and “dog”, adding some comical canine moments, and also adding to the interesting things to watch on stage as he moves through various musical instruments. The musical moments are certainly the most enjoyable, and the theme song is catchy, so the opportunity for a sing along is another fun addition for the littlies to enjoy.

It was hard to know what to expect from this show, however it’s probably good to know that what you’ll be getting is more of an interactive experience than a theatrical adaptation of the book. It could perhaps be likened to Play School, or similar shows, in that there are no fancy sets or costumes here. In fact, each scene could be re-built at home using similar props: streamers on poles for the grass, towels and buckets for the river, paper, aprons and brown paint for the mud, boxes for the forest, etc. For those concerned, it’s also worth knowing that the house lights are never totally down (so the kids won’t be in full darkness), and the bear is definitely more fun than scary!

It all works well, and keeps things interesting for the youngsters, but at the same time doesn’t come across as a highly expensive show to produce and tour. It is therefore a shame the entry price is still relatively high, particularly given there are no “child” priced tickets – as it would be nice to make this sort of theatrical experience more accessible to a wider audience, as well as enable the theatre to be filled for each performance.

That being said, there are still some seats left for the final performances, so those interested in joining the hunt can visit the AFC website to book!