A PLAY about an unhappy hippo could help tackle childhood depression.

The new show, which premieres at the Swindon Fringe Festival this weekend, is intended to help parents address tricky topics with their youngsters.

Directed by Liam Wyatt and starring Ross Scott as the hippo hero, Be Happy, Harry Hippo! follows the large mammal as he tries to get his smile back – with help from his Oxpecker pal.

Harriet Wyatt, of the Hodgepodge Theatre Company behind the Town Hall show, says that the play will see children encouraged to help put the smile back on sad Harry’s face. They’ll be asked to do everything from singing to high-fiving the hippo.

“It’s a show about feeling sad sometimes and the things we can do to make ourselves a bit happier,” she said.

“It’s addressing the epidemic of childhood depression.”

The advice in the show has all be derived from the NSPCC: “It gives parents an idea of things that they can encourage their children to do.”

Harriet added: “We always try and do theatre that’s about something, rather than just a nice show. We try and have a bit of a message with our shows.”

Be Happy, Harry Hippo! is at the Town Hall, Regent Street, on Sunday, April 15, at 10.30am. Tickets are £5.50 advance or £7 on the door.