Taking a three-year-old to the theatre might seem a daunting task. Young children are certainly not renowned for their ability to sit still, keep quiet, or pay attention, and I’m not sure my little boy, James, really appreciates the finer points of the performing arts. I was quite nervous of inflicting a wriggling, chatty child on an otherwise silent and rapt audience. However, the unmistakable appeal of The Polar Bears Go Up! persuaded James and me along to Perth Theatre last week, and we were not disappointed. My parents came along too, for a pre-Christmas treat.
The Polar Bears Go Up! is a highly visual and non-verbal performance suitable for children aged two to five. It’s a sequel to the popular first instalment The Polar Bears Go Wild! but there is no need to have seen the first show in order to enjoy this one. It is being shown in the Joan Knight Studio in Perth Theatre, from the 12th till the 23rd December, in both the mornings and the afternoons.
On arrival at the theatre, James seated himself alongside the other children on one of the soft cushions directly in front of the stage. Most of the adults took a comfy pew just behind. We faced a simple and striking set, and could hear gentle, tinkling music playing in the background. The studio had an informal, welcoming vibe and the excited young audience had a wiggle and a blether before – suddenly – a couple of polar bears appeared.
We faced a simple and striking set, and could hear gentle, tinkling music playing in the background.
To be fair, polar bears I had been expecting, but everything that followed was a wonderful surprise. These lovable furry creatures employed movement and facial expressions to the max, and told their funny and touching story with great effect, and no need for words. The children watching this performance were markedly less silent, but the way the two actors responded to their captivated audience was good-natured and humorous. An eyebrow lift here, and a grin there, let us know we were all on the same side.
So what exactly do polar bears get up to, when we’re not around? There’s a good deal of sniffing their surroundings, and each other, just to check things out. Polar bears would appear to have healthy appetites, with a particular fondness for sandwiches. They like a bit of a boogie, produce some percussive beats, and play off each other with perfect comic timing. But when a mysterious parcel arrives, the polar bears must embark on a vertiginous journey that takes them further and further from terra firma.
The Polar Bears Go Up! is right on point with the tastes and expectations peculiar to a pre-school audience. The laughs were loud and abundant, and every child present was entranced. I was able to relax and appreciate the spectacle, without having to worry about James. I didn’t even flinch when he announced to the room at large, “They’re not polar bears. They’re people dressed as polar bears!” Nothing escapes my child. But the best kids’ entertainment also caters for the accompanying adults, and if my dad’s guffaws were anything to go by, the grown-ups were as tickled as the wee ones.
The production lasts fifty minutes or so, which is just about right for its target age group. As the drama reached its satisfying conclusion, the polar bears took a bow. We finished off with some playful interaction between the children and their newfound, hirsute friends, and each and every one of us left the premises smiling. I found this charming production a joy from start to finish, and a perfect portal to some festive fun. To join the polar bears on their remarkable adventure, book your tickets online or at the Perth Theatre box office now.
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