BWW Review: WE'RE GOING ON A BEAR HUNT at PumpHouse Theatre

Reviewed by Sharon Hewlett

There is no higher praise for children's theatre than laughter, "oohs and ahhs" and wonderment on little faces. There was plenty of those shared at the Gala Opening of "We're Going on a Bear Hunt" at Pumphouse Theatre Takapuna on 29th June. The performance is an adaptation by Tim Bray from the book of the same name written by Michael Rosen.

BWW Review: WE'RE GOING ON A BEAR HUNT at PumpHouse Theatre
Going along with Masters 10 and 4, we dressed in our best hunting clothes and prepared ourselves for a fun literary romp on a Saturday afternoon. Nestled amongst young families dressed as bears, we were not disappointed.

The simplistic, yet modern set is the clever work of designer Rachael Walker. It transitions seamlessly from beach, to bedroom to snowstorm, to cave (and back again!) The warm and well-timed lighting changes signifed an inviting sunny day at the beach and a gloomy cave (plus all the other scenes in between!) my boys were hooked.

Griffin Jenkins, Musician and Musical Director provided the incidental music which was soft and unobtrusive and underscored the scenes remarkably well.
At times there were pauses in the story but cues were picked up smartly and the action progressed.

As an adult I appreciated the inclusive approach with a NZSL interpreter, nod to Te Reo in the script and the idea behind patrons donating to "Gift a Seat" for children from low decile schools, Make-a-Wish, Kelston Deaf Education Centre and blind and sight impaired children from BLENNZ to Audio Described performances.
It is clear that this theatre company wants to include all children.

It was so refreshing to see children acting and interacting well with each other on the stage relating positively as siblings. The two eldest children, Rosemary (Benny Joy Smith) and Chris (Calum Hughes) led the group confidently and with physical comedic aplomb. A highlight for my son and I was the slow-motion ninja scene, mostly due to Smiths facials! My youngest son- Master 4- thought the bear was the highlight, his wink and nod to the audience being the best reveal.

An absolute stand-out of the cast is Max Easey as Timmy the dog. It was easy to get lost in the story and believe through Vicki Slow's masterful costuming (including paw pads!), and the makeup and physicality (created by Natasya Yusoff) that this was indeed the family pet. It is clear that Easey has spent time studying dog behaviour and noises! And kudos also for the constant panting. Minka Braunias, Jacob Hussey, and Cooper Casey rounded out the Gala night cast as well as Stephen Papps as Dad, receiving a well-deserved round of applause at the end.

The script was light, fun and realistic- the songs had the children swaying, tapping and singing along, which shows how good they were! The costuming was sweet and complimented the story well. The props were used cleverly to indicate the different parts of the hunt but I don't want to give too much away!

This is great gift to your children when you are looking for something to do in the holidays; books, music, laughter and fun!

This was our first trip to a Tim Bray Theatre Company show but it won't be our last!

Bookings are filling fast so I'd recommend you get organised so you don't miss out!

We're Going on a Bear Hunt
Tim Bray Productions
29 June - 20 July 2019,
Pumphouse Theatre,

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