REVIEW (from a distance): The Polar Bears Go Up, A Unicorn Theatre & The Polar Bears co-production (LIVE show recording on YouTube)

The Polar Bears are an award winning theatre company who produce engaging shows for young children and their grown-ups. With Big Polar Bear (Ivor Macaskill) and Little Polar Bear (Fiona Manson) unable to go on their usual adventures this year, they have instead made a recording of their 2016 production, The Polar Bears Go Up available for a week on YouTube. We caught their most recent show (The Polar Bears Go, Go, Go) at the Unicorn last year, so were very excited when we discovered that we could catch up on their previous exploits.

The Polar Bears Go Up sees the Polar Bears off on an adventure to rescue a balloon, utilising multiple inventive methods of transport to climb higher and higher until eventually they end up in space. With no spoken word, it’s an accessible piece of theatre that is perfect for early years and those who do not speak English as a first language. Although it’s designed for ages 2-5 both munchkins (6 and 8) were engrossed. It was lovely to hear them laughing along with the live audience, even if it was slightly bittersweet to be able to see and hear the auditorium full of giggling youngsters as we watched from our sofa.

The key to the show’s success is its simplicity – It’s amazing how much mileage the duo get from little things like batting a balloon back and forth. Both have an excellent sense of timing which has the small people in stitches while still being entertaining enough for the adults. The set is more scaled-back than the more recent Polar Bears production, but there are still plenty of fun surprises, and the music is reassuringly familiar without being irritating. (It gave Mummy fond memories of the theme tunes to Pingu and Spot the Dog!) A great way to pass an hour in isolation and a brilliant reminder of why we take the munchkins to see shows at every opportunity we get. We can’t wait to get back into a theatre soon. In the meantime, we are really grateful that so many fabulous theatre companies are making their productions available online! For a full list of family friendly digital theatre, check out our guide here.

The Polar Bears Go Up is available on YouTube until Friday 3 April 2020.