What really happened when a young blond interloper entered the cottage of three bears living in the woods? Give Christopher Piper a new slant on an old idea, step aside and let him go at it.
Piper even designed the puppets, wrote the script and the songs, so he is totally immersed in seeing the issues from a new angle. So immersed in fact that Piper and fellow actor Cate Krage perform all the roles, wear bear costumes as Papa and Mama Bear, and manipulate Baby as a precocious rod puppet, with Goldilocks as a hip valley girl who, like, was just taking a little walk in the woods, like, fer shure, okay?
The script develops endearing personality quirks for each of the characters, and the actors even don long black robes (with a funny reference to Judge Judy) encouraging the audience as esteemed jurors to ponder who really is the perpetrator in the fun-loving tale.
At the onset, Piper and Krage banter like old buds, making the case for their own respective sides, talking to the audience, explaining the scenario while wearing huge bear shoes so there’s no illusion about them portraying the two parental animal roles.
Piper’s Papa Bear is a fun loving gruff whose growl is worse than his bite. He takes his time putting just the right ingredients in his porridge, letting us know at each juncture that something else is missing, until it’s just right.
Krage as Mama speaks in an English Mum accent and lovingly placates Papa by responding to his entreaties, while tending to rambunctious Baby Bear, first heard bouncing on the bed in the back. Once everybody’s porridge has been served, the script takes a turn, with a newspaper report of a break and entering in the neighborhood. Naturally concerned by the distressing news, the bear family prepares to take a walk to comfort their distressed neighbor. Once they leave the house, well that’s when the serious action takes place, since you know who will soon be entering.
How exactly did she end up on the premises? What were her intentions? Did Baby Bear have anything to do with it? What if she was just helping a frightened bear cub who had wondered off—more like playfully scrambled off from his protective parents, going just a tad too far for hide and seek? The script invites You to judge who was a little bit right and a little bit wrong in proposing a fun scenario from the bears’ side of the story. And it is a Hoot.
Piper’s songs have a catchy tune, from “It’s Wonderful Being a Bear,” to the main song about there being “Two Sides to Every Story” with neat lyrics about listening to each other to get along.
The handiwork of director Allan Stevens can be seen in design of the striped and checkered costumes as well as handy roll-up frames depicting the woods or the stove top (of hot porridge fame), infamous chairs and of course, the beds. MayField Piper created the costumes and along with the ushers, wore a beige and brown “Bear Patrol” outfit bringing an adorable authenticity to the entire proceedings.
In usual fashion, there’s something for everyone at Puppet Co — little ones will enjoy a funny retelling of a well-known story while Piper’s wry, crisp wit will keep everyone in stitches, no matter what age.
Derived from a Tale by the Brothers Grim
Produced by The Puppet Co.
Reviewed by Debbie Minter Jackson
Running time: 40 minutes