Family-friendly Christmas show Otto and The Robin is at The Spring in Havant

It’s winter time and cold enough to snow.Otto lives at the edge of the tiny village.

Thursday, 5th December 2019, 12:07 pm
Updated Friday, 20th December 2019, 9:36 am
Children's show Otto and The Robin is at The Spring Arts Centre, Havant, from December 19-28, 2019
Children's show Otto and The Robin is at The Spring Arts Centre, Havant, from December 19-28, 2019

He's been invited to the annual Christmas party hosted by the chatty baker and old school friend, Maggie.

It isn't that he doesn't want to go, it's just that he is very shy, so he has decided to stay at home on his own not talking to anyone.

When a cheeky robin arrives at his window, a special bond develops over songs and cups of tea until Otto realises how important friendships can be.

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Originally created by Angel Exit Theatre with Lighthouse Poole's Centre for the Arts, the company is restaging it in Havant this Christmas.

And it’s something of homecoming for co-artistic director and performer in the show, Lynne Forbes – she grew up in North End, Portsmouth.

She says: ‘I’ve performed at New Theatre Royal with one of our shows before. And then we did another one of our shows, The Ballad of Martha Brown at The Spring a few years ago.

‘But I'm really excited to be doing a two-week run of the show that I've made, and to be able to perform that here so that my family can come and see it as well as the general public.’

With so many children’s shows these days taking the safer route of adapting hit books, Angel Exit decided to take a different tack.

‘We have done adaptations in the past, but we wanted to make something that was completely original and that was really fun for families – something adults can enjoy as much as the kids.’

Set in the fictional Dorset village of Piddle-Under-Puddle, it sees the two actors joined by a puppet robin.

‘When this robin appears and at first Otto’s a bit reluctant to let it in,’ explains Lynne, ‘but then he does and they form this friendship and all kinds of magical things start to happen.

‘I don’t want to ruin the end of the show, but we’ve got a beautiful puppet for the robin, and there's lots of songs and live music, it’s got an original score – and Otto plays the banjo.

‘It’s really delightful and it’s about friendship and the healing power of nature and people coming together, particularly during the holiday time, and a sort of sense of community and fun and friendship. And it's a really, really jolly show.’

While the show’s key audience is children aged five to eight, Lynne says youngsters either side of that can enjoy it too.

‘It's really silly, it’s also got some very physical humour and there’s slapstick.

‘There’s quite a lot of non threatening, sweet, gentle interaction with the kids too, and hopefully by the end everyone’s up on their feet and dancing and enjoying the party as well.’

The performers – and robin – also do a meet-and-greet after each show.

OTTO & THE ROBIN

The Spring Arts Centre, Havant

Until December 28