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Bear Snores On REVIEW

Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre has opened early this year. And, sensibly, its opening show, Bear Snores On, is not entirely weather-dependant.

Cush Jumbo and Katy Sechiari’s loose adaptation of the gentle picture book about an intrepid mouse and a hibernating grizzly starts on the lawn next to the main theatre. There is some nice audience interaction as a surprised gardener engages the children to help him spot the animals who are stealing his lunch. This leads into Mouse (a wonderful Lauren Conroy) taking us all down a narrow passage to find shelter from the snow storm (which, given the weather 2024 has thrown up so far, is frequently going to be a dash from genuine precipitation). We come out into a dimly-lit circular 'cave', a yurt-like structure atmospherically decorated with low wooden benches and blankets; the children are invited to find sticks to help mouse build a fire in the middle. She delightedly starts to make a cosy home, but what is the huge bulk covered by a patchwork quilt on one side of the cave....?

Mouse is joined in the cave, first by an old school intrepid adventurer Hare, complete with his book of Rules of Adventure, then by a lovesick Badger with a crush on Hare and finally by a funky Raven, always on the hunt for a party. The action is not extensive - they make a spicy soup, have a rave, wake up the bear, of course - but the audience was rapt throughout. The cast is superb, each of the four animals' characters are distinct and well-rounded (and at moments very funny), the songs are catchy, the bear suitably vast with just the right level of scariness and there is a touching message about friendship and having a home to call your own (particularly resonant today). The space is small and intimate and everyone feels totally removed from the outside world. At the end, the children fill the central space to join all the animals in a full on party rave.

A brilliantly conceived and executed Spring delight that will utterly enchant children of 4+. Bravo to all involved.

Bear Snores On is at The Open Air Theatre, Regents Park from 23 March–21 April. Tickets: £16.50 adults, £14.50 children. 60 minutes, no interval. Ages 4+.

There is a Bear Snores On Family Trail that runs to the theatre from just by Baker Street tube. Follow Mouse through the park and be entered in a competition to win Bear Snores On goodies.

Emily Turner, 30 March 2024


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