The Bear at Norden Farm
Until December 29
Question: How do you get a theatre full of wide-eyed kids excited?
Apparently, all it takes is a game of peek-a-boo with a stuffed bear. Our children were shrieking with delight before The Bear at Norden Farm had even got underway.
As we waited for the performance by Pins and Needles production company to begin, a little teddy bear peeked out from behind the colour set. Every child in the room delighted in pointing at the bear and screaming “bear” when he reappeared.
The playful start to The Bear sets the tone for a wintry adventure that unfolds inside a very normal family home.
Impressive puppetry combines with light-hearted fun and relatable everyday events.
The cast of just three, plus a very impressive polar bear puppet, certainly work hard in the hour-long performance as they not only dance, act, and move the set around, but also operate the large puppet.
The show is adapted from the book by Raymond Briggs, who is best known for a Christmas classic you might have heard of called The Snowman.
In the opening minutes of the show we are introduced to Tilly, a typical kid who loves to pretend she’s a pop star and adores her teddy bear (who we first met in the game of peek-a-boo!).
One night as Tilly sleeps, a huge polar bear clambers through her window. He becomes Tilly’s friend, although he manages to evade her parents as he explores her home, destroying the kitchen, drinking water from the toilet and pooing on the floor.
The puppet is operated by Tilly’s mum and dad, with a huge head and body covered in fake fur plus two giant slipper-type props as the paws.
The design of the puppet is truly impressive, with beautiful detail to the face that makes it so realistic. And the way the actors move it around, from when it gets stuck climbing through the window to the way it clambers on furniture helps bring this animal to life.
As Tilly struggles to contain her polar bear pal from wrecking the entire house, her parents manage to just miss him at every turn.
The story is all things you want from a children’s Christmas production – funny, silly, relatable, and emotive.
Using clever moving set pieces, the cast manage to transform the stage from a bedroom to a kitchen, to a bathroom and finally to a snowy landscape. All of this is done so creatively that it appears part of a game or dance.
There are some lovely touches such as the bubbles blown out to the audience when the bear splashes around in the bath, and the soaking with a water gun.
The Bear is all about imagination and friendship, wrapped up in a fun festive package that will have your kids believing in magic.
Little ones will fall in love with The Bear, and be waiting at the window for their own polar bear friend to pay them a visit – this is a lovely show to enjoy with all the family this Christmas!
The Bear is being performed at Norden Farm in Maidenhead until December 29. Tickets are £13.50, £11.50 for under 16s and £46 for a family ticket. For more details, click here