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'Mr Gum and the Dancing Bear' review or 'This could get a little sticky.'

'Mr Gum and the Dancing Bear', Andy Stanton 
National Theatre, 3rd August 2019
Written for The Guardian 



This is no ordinary family show. In fact, Mr Gum and the Dancing Bear, which children’s author Andy Stanton has adapted himself, is downright bizarre. It is packed with eccentric details and excessive verbal flourishes. It’s an approach that has served Stanton well in his popular books, but is tricky to pull off in the theatre. Time and again, quirky detail is prioritised over clarity of storytelling. Distinctive? Yes. But disappointing. The creative team is a strong one. Amy Hodge recently directed an ambitious Mother Courage; Georgia Lowe has designed sets for some startling productions including Equus and An Octoroon; and Jim Fortune composed the music for the National’s extraordinary community production of Pericles. But this exciting group of theatre-makers have created relatively little children’s theatre, and their lack of experience shows. The one aspect that lands is th…

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