by Lindsay Whitwell
York Theatre Royal has a celebrated, recent history of The Summer Show. With countless attractions and blockbusters to entertain families over the seemingly endless summer holidays, and on the back of former, award-winning summer productions including The Wind in the Willows and The Railway Children, this year it’s time for Robin Hood to take the stage. If Maid Marian can ever find him, that is!
Writer Richard Hurford has rebooted the popular folk tale for a modern, diverse audience with elements of slapstick, mysticism, puppetry and nods to Spartacus and The Muppets. It’s a fun romp through an oppressed Sherwood and the time-old tale seems as relevant today as ever. The elusive and legendary Robin Hood isn’t exactly what you’d expect and while the story is familiar, much like the arrow of Tiny Des itself, nothing is as straightforward as it first seems.
The show is very reminiscent of panto, with catchy musical numbers and dastardly villains (watch out David Leonard, there’s a new boo-worthy baddie in town. John Elkington is everything you could wish for in a villain); razor-sharp wit, a half-wit sidekick and just a dash of camp) - there’s even a cameo by Berwick Kaler’s resident Panto son, Martin Barrass, if you listen carefully. In the absence of her father, off fighting in the crusade, Marian, deftly played by Siobhan Athwal, is searching for a hero to save her village, despite doing an admirable job herself already. Aided by the sassy spirit of the Oak King and faithful Friar Tuck, we are asked to question what it is to be a hero in times like these and how our perceptions of women in folklore have changed over the centuries.
The notable performance of the evening was the pairing of Trevor A Toussaint and Joanna Holden as Friar Tuck and Little John respectively: aside from the obvious on-stage chemistry, their physicality and comic timing is on point, and experience is evident. Like bags of gold from the rich, they steal the show. While the subtlety of the message may be lost on younger audience members, there’s enough tongue-in- cheek humour to keep mums and dads amused and the vibrant characters and hip-hop fused song and dance routines will capture the kids’ imaginations to have them singing all the way home.
Robin Hood: The Arrow of Destiny is on until 4 September. Book using the button below.BOOK NOW