Thursday, 25 August 2016

"Robin Hood" by Bear Left
Studio Theatre, College Street Centre, Nottingham.
This is Robin Hood with a proper Nottingham twist. It must be quite difficult to create a story with Nottingham's most famous outlaw that hasn't totally been seen before on TV, in films or video, but using the archery contest as the basis of the plot to capture Robin Hood by The Sheriff and Prince John, this is a fresh view of the story.
But the archery contest leads to a very different outcome for several of the characters.....
There's very little set to speak of but you know what, the story is good enough that you don't even notice. The sound effects are good enough to create the atmosphere and the forest ambiance was created by lighting effects.
There's a little uncertainty as to when the start of the play begins because the cast are just milling around on stage. Not a bad thing as it's as if you've stumbled across a gathering of people and you're privy to their conversation and actions. Once the action starts though it's full on with a very entertaining and funny take on our local hero, and all in Nottingham accents, which I loved.
Marcus Whybrow (Robin Hood) brings out the emotional. lovelorn side of the hooded man while still exercising his leadership of his merry men.
Danielle Hall (Marian) plays the role as a tomboy-ish girl next door, still madly in love with her neighbourhood outlaw. At times it's like a two girl slumber party when she's with her BFF gal, Lady Constance, played by Rachel Bates. Another brilliantly updated character who'll do whatever to get her bezzie mate hooked up with her man.
Christopher Collins (The Sheriff of Nottingham aka Guy of Gisborne), creates some lovely comic moments as his character consistently falls short of Prince John's expectations of him. Johnny Walters, as Prince John is rather good at sneering and taunting Hood, often in quite a child-like bullying manner and you really start to dislike the character immensely, which is a tribute to the actor. You almost feel like cheering when John (the Prince) gets his comeuppance at the end.
Robin's posse complete the cast and Steve Mitchell (Little John), Stephi Durand (Alanna Dale) and Sally Nix (Scarlett) all bring a new feel to the characters, especially as Sally, who also directed the play, has changed the usually macho male band of men to a softer, in some ways, group of women outlaws, apart from Little John, of course. All wonderful character driven roles and I love the fiestiness of Scarlett and the forever hungry Alanna whose idea of a good job was if the riches reallocated also included a food item in with the booty!
Even the stage manager.Lesley Brown got a role as the seller who couldn't pay her taxes at the start and with Christopher C and Steve M doubling up roles the cast and characters swelled.
Good sword fight direction, I would have normally said choreography but in this case it's fight direction, by Lisa Connell, and some very fetching outfits. Several of these looked quite heavy to wear and under those lights, and the warmth in the studio, i think there will be some pounds shed after this run.
All in all it's a fresh and fun battle with good against evil, told in a darker way than before, A timeless love story of childhood sweethearts interwoven with mystery and jealousy, but who will survive this tale? Only one way to find out.......
"Robin Hood" is at the Studio Theatre, College Street Centre, Nottingham until Saturday 27 August 2016. Tickets are £12.00 and a good excuse to reallocate some of your riches and you won't feel like you've been robbed.

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