The Giant and the Bear, West Yorkshire Playhouse

.com. Giant-&-Bear-830

A family visit to the West Yorkshire Playhouse to see The Giant and the Bear reviewed by guest blogger, Sally Cooper (@sallycatriona) . . .

I took my family, aged 6 through to 66, to see The Giant and the Bear at West Yorkshire Playhouse the other weekend. Sometimes it can be difficult finding theatre that appeals to my daughters’ growing minds without being patronisingly simple. It is also hard to know what shows will be fun and visually entertaining enough to engage young, sensitive and curious beings. With The Giant and the Bear Untheatre managed to entertain and delight us all perfectly.

Through a mixture of circus-style performance and storytelling The Giant and the Bear presents a story in which women are loved for their power and men for their grace and frailty. The central character of the bear, traditionally fierce and dangerous, is ‘Colin’, a timid beast whose only wish is to be able to play his part in the circus like the others, to fly and glide through the air as they do. Unfortunately for the apparently shy and unassuming Colin, the giant who runs the circus has forbidden him to leave the ground.

Many of the stories peddled to our children teach them to despise weakness and to follow a path pre-determined by their gender as follows; girl=an easy on the eye victim, boy=muscly hero with no expression of emotion, but Colin the bear and the rest of the cast rally against this with by combining the bear’s timid gentleness with strong and confident female characters who encourage him to push himself forward and pursue his dreams.

After the performance I was interested to read about the organisations that collaborated to put The Giant and the Bear together, including circus performer Layla Rosa, social gaming company Hide and Seek and Leeds-based Untheatre. The show was produced as part of imove, an ongoing project running in the North of England connected to the London Olympics and which explores the theme of movement.

All of the organisations involved in this show should be applauded for putting together a piece of theatre that was able to delight all three generations in our group and that inspired my daughters to come home talking excitedly about the strength of the performers and wishing they could join the circus.

So, if anyone knows where my six and eight year old girls can learn to climb ropes like the professionals then do let me know.

Twitter: @sallycatriona


  1. This is a highly considered review, Sally, well done. A lot your thoughts about the way it challenges gender stereotypes hadn’t occurred to me at all until I read this.

Comments are closed.