Not Now, Bernard

Now, I agree with many of the points of this review. Not Now Bernard may be one of the few children’s stories that doesn’t end in a notorious Happily Ever After, but a lot more fun could have been had with this stage adaptation from Unicorn Theatre.

Bernard is living in a boring grown up world where nobody pays him any attention, even when he’s trying to let them know there’s a monster in the garden and it’s going to eat him! With Bernard’s parents shown as mechanical paintings straight from the picture book, Bernard really is alone in an otherwise 2D world and although the story itself is spot on, maybe actors could have been used instead of a monotone audio tape-esque voice over. Echoed by one of the honest critics in the audiences who just wanted to know ‘why aren’t they real people Dad?’.

Although the majority of the young audience members seemed entertained by a big purple monster who can’t fit through doors, and Bernard playing games with his shoes, for a short production the pace needed to be a fair bit quicker with a larger injection of cheekiness. A few grizzles and cries for relatives proved there was a scare-factor involved, but the audience seemed a little restless to really have their attention captured into the story and performance.

On the other hand, maybe I’m just a little old at twenty one?!

Not Now, Bernard
By Flossie Waite
A Unicorn Production
Unicorn Theatre
10.30am, 8th March 2014
Ages 2+

Rhys Rusbatch as Monster in Not Now, Bernard. Image by Manuel Harlan

Is this production genius, or is it terrible? Initially, it seems the former. Not Now, Bernard stays true to the aesthetic of David McKee’s picturebook. It makes brave decisions, beginning with Bernard’s (Rhys Rusbatch) understated entrance as he sits on stage, bored and fiddling about with his shoes while the audience chatter, until he naturally – gradually -catches their attention. But this unusual approach to children’s theatre, combined with palpable excitement from the audience for a glimpse of the monster, meant this felt like “Waiting for Godot, Jnr”. The playful atmosphere of the book was lost, and the production became more bizarre than brilliant.

Bored at home, Bernard tries to alert his parents that there’s a monster at the bottom of the garden who is going eat him, but they are…

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