If you’re a parent or grandparent racking your brains for something to do with the kids which isn’t dependent on good weather, you’re probably running out of ideas.
You could join Michael Rosen’s intrepid family from the popular book We’re Going on a Bear Hunt at The Lowry. Adapted and directed by Sally Cookson, it’s essentially a celebration of play and making your own entertainment outside your living room, and is pitched firmly at the under-fives.
We join the family, including their musical dog, as they go outdoors in search of a bear. Along the way they encounter many of things that a child would notice, when they leave the house. The ordinary becomes extraordinary when seen from a toddler’s perspective, from the swishy swashy grass, and the splishy splashy river to the oozy squelchy mud.
If your kids are normally a bit restless at live shows, there is lots of audience participation, foot-tapping songs delivered by four lovely game performers and a real sense of fun which runs through this production like the letters in a stick of Blackpool rock.
You do get to see the bear of the title, and lovers of Rosen’s beautiful picture book will realise he is nothing to fear.
But the theme of this show is joining in, and one brilliant dad in the front sings along with one of the songs on his own when asked.
It’s hard not to get involved. There is a great deal of energy on the stage provided by a fantastic foursome led by the terrific Tim Hibberd as a dad who loves the great outdoors.
His daughter (played by Hannah Donelon) thrives when engaging with younger members of the audience; her brother (played by Artie Godden) enjoys the water pistol section, and Benjamin Hills shows no end to his talents playing the family dog and providing live music and singing throughout this lovely show.
Benji Bower’s bouncy beats offer a superb soundtrack to this great day out, and beautifully captures the fact that that even though the family insist they are not scared, much of the fun comes from the fact that they are and that they enjoy being petrified.
I took 3-year-old Theo Holt – it was the second live show he has ever seen, having also taken his first trip to the cinema this week to see Toy Story 4.
Pixar’s toy heroes and heroines may have thrilled him on the big screen, but he really enjoyed the fact that he could be so involved in this well-known story and shout out when invited to do so by the cast.
When he heard the bear and could not see it, he was keen to find out where the noise was coming from. He was immersed throughout, and he could be heard singing the main theme song as he left the theatre in search of cake and the Lowry escalator.
It was lovely to see so many kids laughing, singing along and enjoying the slapstick on the afternoon I attended. You just hope that many of them will now want to play outside and ditch their electronic devices in the hope that they may find a bear with a ‘shiny big wet nose.’
Until then, get along to The Lowry and see if it makes them love the great outdoors. It worked for Theo.
We’re Going on a Bear Hunt is at The Lowry until 1st September.