The Bear at Norden Farm in Maidenhead
Updated: Jun 28
The famous storybook by Raymond Briggs, The Bear, has been adapted into a heart-warming family show for the Christmas season.
We were very lucky to be asked to see one of the first showings of Norden Farm's Christmas show, The Bear. I've loved going to the theatre ever since I was little, so I jumped at the chance to take the Ruggies and Pete.
Norden Farm is in Maidenhead, about a 50 minute drive from Newbury.
Norden Farm is about a 50 minute drive from Newbury, so on a Saturday morning - especially the Saturday after Black Friday - we were a little worried about the journey. However, it was very easy and we had no issues at all. Norden Farm Arts Centre is based just off the M4, so once you come off the motorway you're quickly at the front door - or should I say stage door.
We excitedly got out of the car to see a very festive looking Arts Centre with an eye-catching painting of The Bear on the glass window next to the entrance. Erin (Ruggie 2) immediately wanted to try and give the polar bear a cuddle!
I haven't been to Norden Farm for quite some time. According to my mum I used to perform in dance shows there (this was pre-children and in fact, pre a lot of things!) Walking down the stairs to where the performance was held I was pleasantly surprised to arrive into a lovely theatre the perfect size for children's shows. Not too big and not too small.
The middle of Row C is a good spot to watch the show.
We were very lucky to be seated in Row C towards the middle. If you're booking seats I'd say this is a very good spot to watch the show. You can see everything. However, if you like to be more involved in the action (more on this later) maybe go a row or two in front.
I don't want to give too much away about the show in case you go and see it. However, what I can tell you is you won't be disappointed. I've seen many family shows since having the Ruggies and I can honestly say this is the best show - bar The First Hippo To The Moon - I have ever seen. I promise I'm not just saying this because the tickets were gifted to us!
Jack and Erin were belly-laughing before the show had even started!
Right from the very start The Bear has the audience engaged and interacting with the set. Jack and Erin were belly-laughing before the show had even started!
Pins and Needles Productions has cleverly adapted and captured the magic of Raymond Briggs' story through original puppetry and songs. Tilly is playful, funny and kind. Tilly's parents deliver jokes to make adults smile. And, the Bear is simply magical. There are a few 4D surprises for the audience too.
You completely believe the Polar Bear is real.
The puppetry work is ever so impressive. You really do believe the Polar Bear is real. When the show came to an end Erin started sobbing. She was crying because she wanted to see the bear again. I think this confirms just how real the Polar Bear seemed!
There are lots of interactive elements to the show to keep children of all ages engaged for the full 55 minutes. It's very clever. And the special effects used are remarkable considering there's only three people on the stage.
We were very impressed and if it wasn't for us being so busy over the Christmas period, I'd definitely want to see it again. I know Jack and Erin would too.
The Norden Farm experience doesn't stop at the show. There are activities for children and a restaurant serving cold and hot food.
What's great about Norden Farm is the experience doesn't stop at the performance. Up the stairs from the theatre there's a social area filled with books and activities for children and facilities to grab a drink. There's also a restaurant serving delicious cold and hot food. As the show finished at 12pm we decided to grab our lunch there. I chose the soup, Pete the pasta and the Ruggies had fish fingers and chips. It was the perfect way to end our morning with tummies full for the journey home.
We did succumb to buying the storybook after the show. We could have got it from the library but I was so impressed by what we had seen it seemed the right thing to do. You could have also bought polar bear cuddly toys, but I swerved Erin away before she could see them!
The Bear is on from Tuesday 26 November to Sunday 29 December.
The Bear at Norden Farm is showing from Tuesday 26 November to Sunday 29 December. Performances are twice daily and have a run time of 55 minutes. There's an age guidance of 3+ years, however I took Erin (aged 2) and she was completely mesmerised.
There's a relaxed performance for children with SEND on Saturday 28 December at 11am. It's a friendly format; the house lights are kept on and audience members can come and go as they please.
Ticket prices are extremely reasonable, especially when you compare it to local pantomime costs. Tickets cost:
16 and over £13.50
Under 16s £11.50
Family and Friends ticket for 4 people £46
So, if you're unsure about whether to see a pantomime this year, why not try something different and see The Bear at Norden Farm instead!
To find out more visit Norden Farm's website here
*Please note the tickets were kindly gifted to Mummy & the Ruggies in return for an honest review. All views are my own.