York Theatre Royal – until 2nd September. Reviewed by Michelle Richardson
This summer’s family show at York Theatre Royal is Robin Hood. We all think we know the story of the heroic Robin Hood stealing from the rich to give to the poor, but this showing, written by Richard Hurford, is certainly a retelling with a twist.
Marian (Siobhan Athwal) is the star of the show, not Robin (Neil Reynolds), and in fact we do not even set eyes on him until at least 30 minutes into the show. Marian has been left to look after her people whilst her father is off fighting in faraway lands. She is struggling to feed them as well as being robbed blind by the arch villain of the piece, The Sheriff of Nottingham (John Elkington), through unjust taxes, and certainly doesn’t want to be forced into marriage to his nephew, Guy of Gisbourne (Ed Thorpe). With the help of Friar Tuck (Trevor A Toussaint) she goes in search of the myth of Robin Hood, hoping that he can save them from tyranny.
On her quest, she is helped along by The Oak King (voiced by Jo Servi). This tree certainly has a beautiful soulful, melodic voice and is full of words of wisdom, I could listen to his voice all day long. Marian adopts the disguise of Will Scarlett and stumbles upon Robin, who unfortunately does not live up to all the hype. When we first meet him he is a bush?? He is an immature, naive young man, out enjoying the woods with his young band of merry men and Little John (Joanna Holden). He has no real clue about the outside world and certainly does not merit his reputation, with no fighting or arrow skills. Little does he know that Little John is in fact a woman, his mother, as well as Marian.
Ultimately Marian is the saviour that her people have been looking for as she saves the day.
This show uses puppets and though confusing at first their usage was inspired, coming into their own as the story unfolded. They also looked a bit scary, to me at least. The young, and I mean young, support cast all did a fantastic job.
Athwal could certainly belt out a tune and was definitely the star of the show, though all of the cast were great. I really loved the rapping, the chemistry and the comic timing that all showed. For Reynolds this was his first stage production and he took to it like a duck to water, playing Robin with a boyish charm.
This summer pantomime is a definite must see for all the family, especially as the heroine saves the day, go Girl Power!
Showing at York Theatre Royal until 2nd September.