Kids preview: We're Going On a Bear Hunt
- David Pollock
- 20 December 2016
Classic children's book heads for the stage
Although Michael Rosen has a wide and distinguished portfolio career, from broadcasting to political activism, it's as a poet and author for children that he's most well-known. The Children's Laureate from 2007–2009, his career has spanned the 1974 poetry book Mind Your Own Business to his acclaimed 2004 picture book with Quentin Blake, Michael Rosen's Sad Book, about the death of his son.
Yet his most widely-read work remains We're Going On a Bear Hunt, which won the Smarties Book Prize the year it was published in 1989.
Adapted from an old folk song, the story benefited from the watercolour visuals of Helen Oxenbury – which Rosen admits made the story. While he wrote the rhythmic, song-like words to the bear-hunting trek through 'swishy' grass and 'squelchy' mud, it was Oxenbury who imagined the hunt being undertaken by an adventurous family, and the bear as a tragic creature saddened when they run away.
This stage adaptation – a new version of the West End show – promises something messy and fun, with a live score from Benji Bower. 'It's a lovely piece of simple poetry, and it visits so many interesting environments,' says adapter and director Sally Cookson. 'I want to add as little as possible to the words, because what I love is the simplicity of the piece.'
We're Going On a Bear Hunt, King's Theatre, Edinburgh, Fri 20–Sat 21 Jan