Directors: Berwick Kaler and Damien Cruden
Musical Director: Mike Turnbull
Reviewer: Sara Jackson
Now in his 34th year, Berwick Kaler is once again entertaining the Christmas crowd at the York Theatre Royal, this time in Robin Hood and his Merry Mam. Now a staple part of many family Christmas traditions, and famed for its very wet slosh scenes and flying antics, the Theatre Royal delivers everything the audience is waiting for and has come to expect from its annual visit.
This is the story of the villagers of Hamalot, who are being taxed by Sheriff Hutton (Jonathan Race). When they cannot pay, their village is bulldozed to make way for a wind farm and they all go to the forest to join Robin Hood (Vincent Grey) and become his band of Merry Men.
The aerial comedy sequence in the final scene has the audience in hysterics as Hattie Hood (Berwick Kaler) tries her best to lend a hand to Robin in the final showdown. Wonderful clowning sequences from Martin Barrass as Geoffrey Hood as he pursues his ambition to become a man of the cloth, and AJ Powell in his devious mission as the Sheriffs naïve sidekick keep the audience entertained and enthralled. Suzy Cooper’s bubbly yet gutsy Marian gets the biggest laugh at all for a superb comedy song with video sequence.
Do be prepared for a long night, however; though entertaining, the show would be well served to be cut down a little as some young struggled to stay open. There are a few issues with sound that will need to be improved, as will slickness and pace, but by the end of the season this will be ironed out and audiences will barely see the joins.
Phil R Daniels and Charles Cusick Smith have done a fabulous job with the costume and set design. Bright colours and the usual hilarious dame dresses add a real sparkle to the show. The wonderfully entertaining songs by Mike Turnbull and the four talented musicians in the pit are lively and extremely catchy. Coupled with some favourites that we recognise including a pantomime version of ‘Gangnam Style’ the songs are performed with energy and commitment by the ensemble and a little help from the panto children.
All in all, a pantomime that delivers festive fun for all the family and well worth a trip over, as long as you are prepared for a late bedtime.