It has been a topsy turvy year with many lows, but the last 12 months and the ongoing pandemic crisis was forgotten for one magical hour while watching this year’s Christmas show at the Salisbury Playhouse.
Credits needs to be given to the the cast, crew, Salibury Playhouse and Wiltshire Creative who have managed to put on these performances during such a challenging year, with Little Robin Redbreast taking over in the absense of panto.
The main stage auditorium was filled with laughter and excitement as we got to follow the adventures of 5-year-old Robin.
The story starts as he is given an advent calendar and we join in his countdown to Christmas. It’s not long before he starts to imagine himself as a real Robin Redbreast bird who falls out of his nest. Robin then needs to find his way home but the journey back to Mummy and Daddy isn’t always easy and he has run-ins with a hip-hop squirrel and his array of nuts, a dancing mouse and a cunning cat!
The story picks up on topics we have all become used to over the last year including working from home angst, family fights and Joe Wicks exercise routines!
There are plenty of places for interaction, and it’s a pleasure to hear the children shouting back, laughing and joining in with the dancing and clapping.
With only four actors in the cast, they do a great job of taking on multiple roles and even playing the piano live.
The whole show is 55 minutes long, with no interval, perfect for young children and just the right length to keep their attention.
55 minutes is also just about long enough for the adults in the audience who have to wear masks in the auditorium (face coverings are mandatory unless you are exempt from wearing one or are eating or drinking).
That is just one of the new Covid rules that the Playhouse has brought in to make sure the theatre is safe for visitors.
Other changes include:
Entry to Salisbury Playhouse is now only via the door nearest the City Hall entrance and to avoid queues outside they are staggering entry and request that you only arrive at the venue at your allocated time (which is emailed to you before the show)
Audiences will have their temperature screened upon arrival
There is increased and enhanced cleaning regimes including regular fogging of the auditorium and common touch points are cleaned regularly throughout the day
Drinks and snack boxes must be pre-ordered
The auditorium has been re-configured with the number of seats now down to 147 seats from 500. Rows of seats have actually been removed and there are spacer seats in between household bubbles to ensure social distancing rules are stuck to
All of these changes have led to the Salisbury Playhouse receiving the official UK Theatre 'See It Safely' badge to confirm that they are adhering to the industry guidelines on best practice.
So, if you are looking for something Covid safe to do with the children this Christmas – and to feel some festive cheer after a challenging year – then Little Robin Redbreast is the show to see.
Little Robin Redbreast is running at the Salisbury Playhouse util 27th December 2020.