Theatre review: The Giant And The Bear, West Yorkshire Playhouse

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This is a theatrical show for the young and young at heart, with a difference.

The audience are not simply ushered to sit down and ‘entertained’ for the standard allotted time, before vacating seats and leaving, as most trips to the theatre entail.

Visitors become part of the show. I suppose in arty circles it might be called interactive theatre, but getting people interested in something different other than the telly box is good news as far as I am concerned.

Plus we had the bonus of two exhausted little folk, full of chatter about bears and flying ladies.

The fun starts in the West Yorkshire Playhouse box office where you pick your tickets up and have your hands stamped to gain your entry to the big top, which is a short walk away.

Then the bear hunt begins, with the whole audience seeking all kinds of bears, such as the invisible one and the sugar-spun kind, hidden in and around the theatre, creating a fabulous excuse for some good, old-fashioned fun.

Mayhem and competition ensues as musical instruments are handed out and played.

Then there’s a fun parade, with audience participation, to the circus tent, before the real fun begins.

Everyone is, of course, anticipating the thrill of what might happen once inside. And we are not kept waiting long for a wonderful show by a merry band of acrobatic performers, all extremely likable with stand-alone characters and some impressive stunts which impressed a happy audience.

Our favourites were the Hanging Hoop Girl with her fantastic flexibility and the flying bear who amazed us with his rollerskating skills.

Leeds based Unlimited Theatre, in collaboration with the Playhouse and circus artist Layla Rosa of Shunt, are sure to become an even bigger talking point with this innovative production, which is also part of the Official London 2012 Festival.

A must-see for anyone with youngsters of any ages, from toddlers to big boys, who fancy a walk on the wild side.

Until Sunday, West Yorkshire Playhouse, Playhouse Square, Quarry Hill, Leeds, Thu and Fri 1pm and 7pm, Sat and Sun 11pm and 3pm, £10. Tel: 0113 213 7700. www.wyp.org.uk

alison bellamy

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