Riding Lights address children’s mental health problems in lockdown in Fizzy Finn Finds His Feet at Friargate Theatre

Jared More’s Fizzy Finn and a puppet in Riding Lights Theatre Company’s Fizzy Finn Finds His Feet

RIDING Lights Theatre Company’s “crackling new Christmas adventure”, Fizzy Finn Finds His Feet, will hit the ground running from Saturday at Friargate Theatre, York.

Written by Jon Boustead for primary-school children, the topical play addresses children’s mental health problems arising from lockdowns and separation from family and friends.

Finn is a fidget whose brain is ablaze with an unbreakable buzz that fizzes to his fingers and tickles his toes, or it would do so if he could only find his feet, in a Christmas adventure full of fear and bravery in a stormy world.

“Christmas brings surprises and not all of them are nice,” says Boustead. “It’s a crackling mix of hopes and fears and they’re definitely getting closer. Finn is on the run. Can stories help to untangle things?

“If only someone would listen to Suzy Pettiskew before she bursts. Or stop Barney Box’s dog from growing bigger night by night. And can anyone really ‘blotzsh the Glim’?”

Jared More’s Fizzy Finn and Meg Blowey’s Tink the Cobbler in her amazing story-telling Shoe Shop

Directed by Erin Burbridge and designed by Anna Gooch, Fizzy Finn Finds His Feet features a magical blend of vivid storytelling, original music by Patrick Burbridge and creative puppetry, presented by Jared More’s Fizzy Finn and Meg Blowey’s Tink the Cobbler.

Suitable for five to 11-year-old children, the show has been available to schools this term either for live performances or in a film version, accompanied by a teachers’ pack, prepared by a primary school teacher, overseen by a child psychologist and approved by Ebor Psychology. “There’s really useful stuff in there for teachers and children,” says says acting general manager Bernadette Burbridge.

This is the second such Riding Lights film. “We learned last year, with a very charming filmed production of Oscar Wilde’s The Selfish Giant, that film offered a very successful way of supporting schools coping with lockdowns,” says Bernadette.

“We provided a link that they could forward to children at home and in some cases, the giants zoomed into schools, by agreement, to interact with the children.

Finding his feet: Jared More’s Fizzy Finn in a scene with Meg Blowey’s Tink the Cobbler

“Sadly, in November, we were receiving at least one call a day from a school to say they had Covid and didn’t want us to come into their buildings, so we had to cancel a number of Fizzy Finn performances.

“We offered them the film and a virtual visit from Tink the Cobbler and Fizzy Finn instead – and the advantage of having a filmed version is that we can make this available to audiences right across the UK and beyond.”

Now, Fizzy Finn Finds His Feet does exactly that from December 18 to 23 in 50-minute performances at 10am, 1pm and 3pm on Saturday and next Wednesday and 11am and 2pm next Monday, Tuesday and Thursday at Friargate Theatre, Lower Friargate.

“The film is a good alternative but there’s nothing like a live show!” says Bernadette, who sums up Fizzy Fiin’s tale this way: “Jon’s play isn’t about Christmas although it’s set at this time of year. It’s about learning to understand one’s fears and anxieties and finding good ways to deal with them.”

Jon concludes: “Shoes are very good storytellers. You experience a lot by stepping into someone else’s shoes. So fasten your laces! Tie them up tight and join Finn as he discovers Tink the Cobbler and her amazing story-telling Shoe Shop.”

Tickets are on sale on 01904 613000 or at ridinglights.org/fizzy-finn.