Family Show Review: Bing! Live, Watford Colosseum
Things We Like
- The puppet characters are impressive
- Works well being split into two 30 minute halves
- Features the majority of characters from the TV show
Things We Dislike
- Story line is a little weak compared to the TV show
- Scope for more audience participation
- £15.50+ per person can soon become expensive for families
- Performers behind puppets was a little distracting
What’s It All About?
Bing! Live sees CBeebies’ favourite bunny make his life stage debut in a fun show that will delight the Bingsters in your household. Joined by the likes of Sula, Pando and Coco, the friends explore theatre though a combination of story telling, play, singing and dancing. It’s a Bing thing!
What Do We Think?
Bing has been a staple in our household ever since our 5-year old daughter first discovered it on CBeebies when she was a toddler. There was therefore much excitement – for her and us – when we found out that Bing and friends were touring the UK in their very first live stage show. We went along to see Bing! Live at Watford Colosseum in February 2019 and found it to be a fun and entertaining show, however it was one that sadly didn’t quite live up to our expectations.
Aimed primarily at preschoolers and their families, the show sees Bing and friends learn about the theatre through story telling, imaginative play, dressing up, singing and dancing. For example, they watch the stage curtain lift, practice how to bow and chase the spotlights. Later on, they go on imaginary adventures into space and underwater, before performing their own stage show to Flop and Amma which features an evil mermaid king, a princess and a hero.
If you’re thinking it all sounds a bit random, then you’d be right! It’s a fun and entertaining show which features singing, dancing, storytelling and all of your little Bingster’s favourite characters. Due to the target audience, it did feel a little wild in the theatre with plenty of talking, shouting, shuffling and running around. This didn’t detract too much, but it was a little annoying and did mean that it was difficult to hear some bits. However, as this is aimed at young kids, you can’t really expect anything else!
To try to keep the audience hooked, the 75 minutes (including interval) was split into two halves of around 30 minutes. We’ve been to a lot of kid’s shows that are 55 minutes in length, however the audience for Bing! Live felt particularly young so two halves worked quite well. There was also a really nice transition into the interval where the characters board the toilet train, which acts as a reminder for the Bingsters in the audience to go during the break.
The show provided opportunity to join in and move around, so it didn’t matter too much that bums weren’t on seats all of the time. This audience participation was delivered particularly well, however we did feel that there was scope to engage with the audience even more. During the show, you and your kids will find yourself roaring like a lion, swaying like a tree, singing “twinkle, twinkle” and learning a dance taught by Coco featuring arm waving, foot stomping and bum wiggling. However, as mentioned, more audience participation would have been welcomed.
Bing! Live features the majority of characters from the TV show – Bing, Flop, Sula, Amma, Pando, Coco and even Hoppity Voosh. Rather than animation or an actor being dressed up, they used puppets controlled by one, two and sometimes even three performers. These puppets were really impressive – they looked like the characters and had moving arms, legs, heads and even eyelids. It’s worthwhile saying though that having performers behind the puppets was a little distracting, particularly as their outfits didn’t blend in and because the puppets were smaller than the actors.
In addition to controlling the puppets, the performers also did the speaking and singing live. Taking nothing away from the performers as it must be difficult to control a puppet and talk at the same time, but a few of the character voices were ‘different’. For instance, Amma sounded almost identical to the TV show, whereas Bing’s voice didn’t quite hit the mark. Again, maybe this doesn’t matter too much to a three year old, but as parents, we’d have hoped for slightly better.
That brings us onto the story line – or what felt like a lack of one when compared to the TV show! The CBeebies series uses a simple story line based on everyday situations to help Bing – and therefore the children watching – to understand the world and manage new experiences or unexpected problems. Whether it’s friendship, thinking about others, learning to share or coping with loss, every episode of Bing has a teachable moment which makes the show so great for young kids.
However, this didn’t really translate to the stage. The story line wasn’t a simple one featuring a beginning, a middle and an end based on an every day situation. The only thing that appeared to be tying it together was the loose theme of ‘theatre’. This meant that it felt jumbled, confused and lacked any real cohesion from one scene to another. This improved when the characters started dressing up and then decided to put on their own play, but we didn’t get to this point until about half way through the show. Had this story line been the focus from the start, the show may have felt less random and confused.
On the whole, it was an enjoyable, fun show which provided good entertainment for an hour and a bit. If you have kids that love Bing, then I’m sure they’ll enjoy seeing him on stage. For us though, we were left a little underwhelmed, particularly in light of the price. It wasn’t one thing, but more a few things when added together. We’ve seen some great, engaging theatre shows for kids which arguably have raised our expectations – sadly, Bing! Live didn’t live up to those expectations and doesn’t really compare to some of these other shows.
What Does It Look Like?
What Do I Need To Know?
Type: Theatre, Live Show.
Dates: 9th and 10th February 2019 at Watford Colosseum, as part of a 60 venue UK tour from June 2018 to April 2019.
Price: From £15.50 for child and £17.50 for adult depending on seat location. Under 1’s require ‘babe in arms’ ticket which is £1.
Duration: Approx. 75 minutes, including a 15 minute interval.
Age Range: Babies and Toddlers (0-3), Young Children (4-8).