by Natalie Bennett
The press release (PDF) for Little Bear indicates that it is a show for “all ages”, and explains the genesis of Ray Sullivan’s script in workshops for “troubled adolescents”. Yet there’s little indication of this in the Camden Fringe programme, so viewers might be a little surprised at what they get.
Certainly, it’s a well-acted, well-rehearsed, energetic hour-long production, in a glorious setting of old trees, swooping birds and late summer blossom.
And the tale of a troubled life in the forest – where a hunter, thwarted in love and game by Genevieve, his former soul mate, has ensured that the sun won’t rise and the stars have been switched out, with only the moon still resisting his force – a world into which a lost little girl enters, discovered by a distinctly Shakespearean sprite – is certainly on classical ground.
Yet I have to say that it really does feel more like a play for children than adults – a morality tale about the power of hope, relying on your friends and working together, and the positive effects of compassion. All good decent stuff, but for adults you’d expect some more real darkness, and more twists and turns in the plot.
I also felt rather more might have been made of the setting – a line held in store for a swooping bird, or a fluttering early moth, ready to slot in at the right moment to take full advantage of this glorious historic setting.
Still, the cast does a fine job, particularly Genevieve and Ulu (the little girl), the garden in glorious. It is well worth an hour of your time for the last production tonight – particularly if you have a child or young teen to bring along to enjoy it with.
The production has its final Camden performance tonight, in St Martin’s Garden at 7pm. Free.
Camden Fringe continues until August 28.