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Otto and the Robin review at Omnibus, London – ‘an inspiring seasonal treat’

Lynne Forbes and Edward Day in Otto and the Robin at Omnibus, London. Photo: Darren Harvey-Regan

A Christmas tale about a lonely young man who lives on his own and suffers from acute social anxiety sounds like an unusual topic for a festive show for the under 11s, but Otto and the Robin handles the subject with charm.

Otto works from home as a travel editor and is so crippled by shyness that he struggles to answer his telephone. His effervescent old schoolfriend, Maggie, tries desperately to include him  and help him overcome his awkwardness, pinning her hopes on the Christmas party she’s planning to host.

Edward Day is wonderfully gawky as Otto, who – by way of a spell – can’t see the audience so is able to behave as if nobody is watching. As he plays the banjo and prepares his home for Christmas, he shares the poignancy of his plight. Day elicits such sympathy from his young audience that they often shout out spontaneous words of encouragement: “Come on Otto, you can do it!”

Maggie is assisted in her gentle and patient persistence by the endearingly stubborn puppet Robin. But for all the moral lessons, Tamsin Fessey’s production is also exciting and fun. Day’s physical comedy is outstanding – his techno dancing and laboured morning press-ups are a delight. Coupled with the inventive set and Lynne Forbes’ engaging manner as both Maggie and the Robin, Angel Exit Theatre has created an inspiring seasonal treat.

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Verdict
Uplifting seasonal gem that teaches youngsters about overcoming social awkwardness
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