Festive tale of friendship on the Havant stage

The Spring’s Christmas show in Havant is a warming festive tale of friendship and learning to be a little bit bold.

Monday, 23rd December 2019, 9:07 am
Otto and the Robin
Otto and the Robin

Otto and The Robin runs from December 19-28, courtesy of Angel Exit Theatre which was formed by graduates of the Ecole Lecoq.

The company offers a shifting ensemble of performers with a shared passion for new, dynamic and physical theatre.

Previous shows for younger audiences have included The Secret Garden and Moonfleet; now they turn their attention to younger audiences still, with a show aimed at three and up, broadly three to eight, though with plenty for older children and adults to enjoy alongside them.

Lynne Forbes, co-artistic director who is also in the show, said: “We have been going since 2007.

“The company was formed by graduates from the school in Paris, which is a French theatre school which is very much about training in physical theatre, things like clowning and buffoon.

“We devise the shows and they are very playful and very visual.

“Physical theatre is a very broad term that encapsulates a lot of things.

“Otto and The Robin was commissioned by the Lighthouse theatre in Poole. It is a completely original story.

“We are associate artists at the Lighthouse and they asked us to make a show for them to have in their studio.

“Their main request was that it should be about Christmas and that it should have snow!

“We have got a beautiful Robin puppet who originally featured in The Secret Garden for us.”

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

“The story came about just because we were interested in doing something about friendships and connections at Christmas… and doing something also about the power of nature and that power of being outside.

“Otto is on the edge of the village, and his friend Maggie, the baker in the village, invites him every year to come to the party, but he is getting shyer and shyer and shyer and more isolated and doesn’t want to go until this year this robin arrives.”

Gradually a friendship develops which sees them singing duets and drinking tea together.

When the robin goes, Otto realises how lonely he has become and how he must be brave and step outside and make friends.

“Lots of people can feel isolated at Christmas and feel that they are too intimidated to go to the party.

“That can happen whatever age you are, whether you are five or 85. You might just feel that going to a big party is just too much for you, and the more you think about it, the more you become trapped.

“This is a really fun show. There is dance and snow and balloons, and there is a real feel-good factor to it all…. And also Maggie is very much about being outside and about seeing your friends.

“There is a really nice message that comes through it all.”

The show features a handmade puppet by Polly Beestone, an original soundtrack and songs played by Otto on his banjo (composed by Angel Exit regular Tom Ball), and design by Sarah Dicks (AUB graduate, The Ballad of Martha Brown, Cirque Bijou, Battle for the Winds).

Lynne operates the Robin and plays Maggie.

The show is directed by Tamsin Fessey, co-artistic director of Angel Exit Theatre.

Tickets are available from The Spring in Havant.