- Thom Dibdin
- 10 August 2018
Raymond Briggs's picture book brought to the stage by the magic of puppetry
You can tell just how big Bear is by the way it squeezes through the window into Tilly's room as she sleeps. Its body pushing against the frame, big paws – detached from its huge hooped body – plodding down onto the toy box beneath the window.
There's nothing scary about this bear, however. It has a more friendly demeanour than Raymond Briggs's rather stern picture book original. It seems to be half smiling when it comes to stay with Tilly, as she informs her parents, who seem to spend their time at work or in the shed, leaving her and the bear to explore the house.
There's no question that the bear puppet is the star of this show, but it does take a long time to arrive. First the adaptation from Pins and Needles Productions needs to establish Tilly (the hugely engaging Leigh Quinn) in her room, and her parents (who will operate the puppet) as long-suffering.
When Bear does arrive, the focus is on events in the house – having a bath is particularly effective and an opportunity to spray the audience. Riding out into the midnight sky is, sadly, rather tagged on to the end and there is no loping around town at night. But the discovery of Bear in its Arctic home with its baby is a well-worked pay-off.
Pleasance Courtyard, until 27 Aug (not 20), noon, £9–£12 (£7.50–£10.50).