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Robin Hood at The Egg Theatre, Bath

Published by: Clare Brotherwood on 16th Dec 2016 | View all blogs by Clare Brotherwood

If Wikipedia is to be believed, the legend of Robin Hood has been around since 1377.

Greg Banks’ version, however, is bang up-to-date, opening with rough sleepers prowling the stage as one of them recalls the man who robbed the rich to feed the poor.

The characters may have been made homeless by Prince John but there are many today who are just like them, living on the streets and begging for food, while instead of Robin Hood we have charities such as Crisis and Shelter.

This production is far from downbeat, however. Yes, it’s got a heart. It’s a story with substance and some robust characters, but it is also rollicking, good entertainment, with a live band, songs, dancing and some audience participation. Banks, who also directs, is to be praised for fitting so many elements into 1 hr 50 mins, while the cast of four are to be applauded for their energy, physicality and all-round versatility.

Much of the fun is down to Thomas Johnson’s music, and lyrics co-written by him and Banks. It’s a mix of reggae, rap, Madness and The Proclaimers, with the cast belting out songs such as Liberation Day to rousing accompaniment from Amy Sergeant on guitar, Julie Walkington on double bass and Rhian Williams on drums. The fact that they perform these songs with hand-held mics and sometimes wear Blues Brothers-type sunglasses makes them extra-cool and identifiable to today’s young audiences

All four play a myriad of characters, only going to the side of the stage to instantly turn round transformed into a goodie or a baddie. But they each have major roles.

Peter Edwards is your archetypal hero, leaping from tree trunk to tree trunk firing imaginary arrows and being an all-round good egg (pun not intended). He’s brave but when he and Marion fall in love he is as soppy as you can get.

Although she gives in to the Sheriff of Nottingham to save her father, the character of Maid Marion is a lot more spirited, and her bravery, loyalty and love makes her a perfect role model for girls of today. It would be a better message to send out  if Robin had fallen in love with her because of her bravery rather than her beauty but, whichever, audiences will fall in love with Rebecca Killick (who also plays Much, an adolescent member of Robin’s Merry Men), a cracking little actress who has huge presence and even makes turning cartwheels look easy.

Nik Howden and Stephen Leask are at opposite ends of the scale. As the Sheriff of Nottingham, Howden is perfect as a thin, black-leathered, streak of evil, while Leask shows his comedic skills, playing Prince John as a figure of fun.

Performed in the round with Hannah Wolfe’s set of a clump of frosted tree trunks presenting challenges to the actors, this production for six-year-olds upwards is a real Christmas cracker, while The Egg, built specifically for use by young people inside a Grade II listed Victorian building, is a star in its own right.

Robin Hood is at The Egg Theatre, Bath, until January 15.

Box office: 01225 448844



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