Chichester Festival Theatre is one of the venues for Ring a Ding Ding, the latest show from Oily Cart as they hit the road to celebrate their 30th year of business.
Running at the CFT from February 7-11, the show offers a multisensory interactive entertainment for three to six-year-olds, in which the audience goes on an adventure with the show’s protagonist, Alice, solving problems to help her find her dog.
It all comes at a great time for the company. Last year they were selected as one of only 26 official royal wedding charities, and artistic director Tim Webb has just been awarded an MBE.
“We did our first show in October, 1981, so last autumn was the anniversary, really,” says Tim, “but we consider this to be our anniversary year. We are celebrating. We are doing a book about the company which will be published in the autumn. We will have a launch event for that.
“We specialise in two audiences really – children that are young, aged three to six and their family and friends, which is what the show in Chichester is; and also at other times in the year we do shows for children with severe learning difficulties.
“Originally, we started out doing work for very young children back in the old days. It was myself and the bloke that is still the musical director. We got together and made a show for children under five in 1981 – and at that time a lot of people just thought that under-fives would not be able to concentrate, that they would just keep wanting to go to the loo.”
But Tim and the company have proved that that’s a massive under-estimation of their skills: “We have also done shows for under-twos, virtually non-verbal and with a lot of music.”
The point is, clearly, that you are never too young, especially when the show is properly interactive, a company hallmark: “We invite the children to be part of the performance, to talk to us, to show us what they want, to walk around within the show.”