Not Now, Bernard

Published February 24, 2014

What’s it all about?

When I mentioned Not Now, Bernard to my parents, their blank expressions surprised me almost as much as finding a child-devouring beastie lurking in the garden would. The memorable image of a purple monster perched atop a hillock feels as linked to my childhood as Button Moon, Rainbow and spokey dokeys. (Yes, I’m 30-something).

But what’s it about? Oh. A boy who get’s ignored and the monster who eats him.

How do they tell the story?

It’s basically a one-man show featuring beautifully recreated enlarged illustrations of Bernard’s Mum and Dad. This can prove a touch confusing for the very young; as the set was magnified to accommodate the fact that the actor playing Bernard is fully grown, little Amer wanted to know who the giants were.

Bernard barely speaks. Instead an unseen narrator talks us through the story while Elena Pena’s sound design signposts the action.

The multiple role-playing forces you to question whether Bernard is actually eaten or whether he turned into a little monster when he wasn’t getting any attention… if you’re over-thinking it or an inquisitive three-year-old.

What did the kids like best?

I asked little Amer. He said: “When the monster ate Bernard… but why didn’t he eat his shoe?”

Judging by the enthusiastic giggling from the rest of the audience, Bernard’s chatty feet – yes, that’s right – proved popular too, as did the chance to explore Bernard’s bedroom at the end of the show, which was a lovely interactive touch.

In a nutshell?

At 45-minutes long, it’s a bite-sized treat not to be ignored.

Will my little one like it?

As long as monsters – even fluffy purple and pink ones – don’t have an unfortunate effect on your child, Not Now, Bernard is a nostalgia-heavy treat for parents and a quick, quirky tale for kids.

Trip tip

Weather and time permitting, a very short stroll down to the Thames pre- or post-show gives great views of Tower Bridge and HMS Belfast.

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