Culture Theatre

The Bear review: exploring all the places our imagination can take us

by Andrea Gaini

16th December 2017, Wales Millennium Centre

★★★★☆

We’ve all been kids once in our lives, but still, every time we look behind we wish to go back to those times when our imagination could turn our living room into the biggest and most amazing submarine the world had ever seen.
The Bear is a stage-representation of the homonym book by Raymond Briggs giving life to one of the most beloved animals in literature. The show follows the story of Tilly’s friendship with a bear that breaks into her room on a cold night. Despite the bear’s naughty behaviour, Tilly loves him endlessly and opens her arms from the moment they meet, giving her purest love.

Produced by Pins and Needles Productions the show is perfectly staged and very well interpreted by the three actors. Even before the show starts Tilly (Susanna Jennings) is already excitedly going around and welcoming all the kids in the Weston Studio of the Wales Millennium Centre. When the show finally begins Susanna immerses herself in the life of this joyful little girl to take the young audience in her world.

As the story unfolds the little family gives a feel of a kid’s life: the bed-time routine, breakfast and the average day while the parents are off to work. It’s when the night comes that the story, and the show itself, takes its turn when the bear finally makes its big entrance into Tilly’s room. From nose to tail the bear is made of a long bear-like structure covered with feathers. The face is fairly realistic, however, the movements and the sounds produced by the actors are what makes the representation incredibly accurate.  The show reaches its highest emotional peak when Tilly jumps on the bear’s back and rides around the scene on the giant animal: a moment of intimate love which reveals the power of a child’s love.

The entire production is run in a very entertaining way making the show very enjoyable and amusing. Scene changes are almost never blacked out, leaving the actors with the responsibility of making them smooth, quick and fun, which they certainly succeed at.

Sitting on a chair surrounded by kids, aged between 0 and 5 years old, watching The Bear creates an incredible atmosphere which takes you back in time to when you had nothing to worry about (apart from the giant bear breaking all the plates in your kitchen!). Times that now seem so far away, but yet so close with the use of a little imagination.

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