Paddington Bear's First Concert @ Underbelly Bristo Square

A Paddington Bear show with no Paddington Bear, but plenty of Marmalade for the rest of us though, right?

Review by Dominic Corr | 14 Aug 2018
  • Paddington Bear's First Concert

Take a seat, attempt to contain your excitement and pass the Marmalade sandwiches as the country’s second favourite bear is about to attend his first concert. With the recently revived burst of passion over this small bear from deepest darkest Peru, it’s no wonder he’s made it up to Edinburgh.

Our conductor, a beguiling storyteller, involves as many members of the audience as she possibly can into this morning’s activities. Unexpected turns are aplenty at Paddington’s First Concert – including fruits being hurled over the audience’s heads. Onstage is Flute, Cello, Violin and French Horn – those are not only the instruments but also the names of the characters who play them. While gifted in their playing, however, their performances are stale and on occasions forget to smile. Be animated! It’s a children’s show.

Set-wise the mise-en-scene is limited yet surprisingly inventive. As the play takes us around the globe, new props are utilised to establish the setting: some traditional and on the cheaper side, and one West Indies depiction that needs leaving in the 70s.

Here’s the categorical issue with Paddington Bear’s First Concert – where’s Paddington? A small stuffed bear can be spotted in the corner of the stage, lifeless yet adorable. However, an auditorium filled with kids and a few adults expecting to see their raincoated hero are left sadly out of luck. With a plethora of able crafters for puppets, models and costumes – surely anything would have been better than a vacant spot?

This is a charmingly made production – the dedication from the storyteller alone is almost syrupy sweet – and with just the gleam of an appearance from Paddington, it would have won over the entire audience.

Paddington Bear's First Concert, Underbelly Bristo Square (Cow Barn), 2-26 Aug (not 13), £12-£10

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