The Hug is Shoreham's online half-term treat

The Hug is a fairly ironic title these days, one of the many, many things we just can’t do as freely as we used to.

Monday, 8th February 2021, 9:00 am
The Hug

But The Hug is a show Long Nose Puppets had been planning even before the pandemic struck, as company founder Katherine Morton explains.

The show has now come to fruition for the Brighton-based company – and can be enjoyed as a screening for half-term at Shoreham’s Ropetackle on February 18 (book to view it through the Ropetackle website).

“This past year has been pretty dire, but we were really lucky that we got funding. We had actually put in a bid to the Arts Council before the pandemic ever became a thing so this feels like a strange irony now.

“We had a whole year’s worth of shows that we cancelled and then postponed and then cancelled again so it is fantastic to be back in rehearsals for this and to be filming it.

“But it has been sad. We have got such a good relationship with the audiences that we have built up. Right at the beginning it was good to hole up and take stock and have a bit of a creative thinking time, but now it just feels that we are absolutely desperate to get back in front of an audience. But filming is the next best thing.

“It is obviously a slightly different process. Usually we just film a show as a record for us, but this will be seen by a lot more people now online. We will have more close-up shots of the puppets and they will all be fresh and new. It is all very tactile… it is just so sad that it can’t be in person.

“We were going to have a hug-station after the show and everyone was going to get to hug the puppets and we were going to have a hug-o-meter. It is going to be put at the back of the stage and will come out as soon as it can. This will be like sending virtual hugs to people. We are going to be making a few resources as well, like postcards you can send to someone that you want to hug. We are going to be broadcasting it to various channels. For Ropetackle, it will be through their own system. We are in discussion with a few other venues as well.”

The show is based on the book The Hug by Eoin McLaughlin and Polly Dunbar. The story follows a hedgehog and a tortoise both in search of a restorative hug. They face many rejections along the way from a greedy badger and an obsessive squirrel to a cross fox and a not-very-wise owl.

“It’s a tale of hope, empathy and finding that right someone. Set to Tom Gray’s beautiful and witty music, the audience are invited on a journey full of fun, laughter, love and acceptance. The sad tortoise and the sad hedgehog are both gloomy for one reason or another. They have just woken up and they are sad, and they just want a hug to make them feel better. They both go on separate journeys and see different creatures as they set out to see if they can find a hug.”

The Hug is the company’s seventh show. They have been going since 2006 which makes this year their 15th birthday – a birthday they are determined to enjoy.

“We are going to celebrate it by eating a lot of cake. We will be eating 15 cakes each! We will make ourselves do it. They might have to be small cakes! But we will definitely do something to celebrate. It would be lovely to think that we might somehow get to perform in front of a live audience at some point for our 15th birthday.”