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Robin Hood – Arts Theatre, Cambridge

Writers: Matt Crosby and Michael Fentiman

Musical Director: Matt Smith

Director: Michael Fentiman

Reviewer: Flip Miller

Robin Hood Cambride ARtsYou know Christmas is coming with the annual trip to the Arts Theatre pantomime. This year’s offering is Robin Hood. Although not your usual pantomime you will not be disappointed.

This story of Robin Hood, written by the show’s Dame Matt Crosby and the Director Michael Fentiman is a hybrid of Robin Hood and Babes in the Wood. Young Robin, played by Ross Hunter, returns to Nottingham where the feisty Maid Marion played by Laura Want has issues with Robin and his mildly misogynistic ways. He vows to woo her back and when the King’s children are kidnapped he sees this as an ideal opportunity.

The curtain rises to Beyonce Willoweb played by Sophie Isaacs flying across the stage on a bicycle – highly appropriate for this Cambridge audience. As the saying goes good things come in small packages and Isaacs proves this point. The enthusiasm and energy she brings to this part really brings this character to life.

The writing and storyline is weaker than previous scripts by Crosby. However, Fentiman and Crosby do manage to insert some great one-liners about the local area to keep the audience engaged. The re-writing of popular songs is tried and tested in pantomime. In Robin Hood Crosby and Fentiman seem to have mastered this talent. Of particular note is the Sheriff of Nottingham’s variation of I’m Too Sexy.

Stephen Beckett reprises his rôle as Baddy at Cambridge by playing the Sheriff of Nottingham. For the children in the audience Beckett does play a very evil villain from start to finish. Beckett has a tongue in cheek quality to his performance that allows him to play this mainly straight character with a bit of comedy. It is obvious that he is enjoying playing this rôle.

Hunter takes the title rôle in the pantomime. While he is an accomplished actor and singer there is something lacking in his performance. He executes his rôle very well but just does not have the “Panto Factor”.

The slapstick scene shows off Matt Crosby and Jonny Weldon’s (Nurse Nelly and Will Scarlett respectively) clowning skills to perfection. They are enthusiastic and really put their all into it. Their co-ordinated pratt falling is timed with absolute prescision. Weldon’s collision with the wall had the audience wincing but when you watch the precision in this routine in the Pantomime you realise that it is all part of the act.

The parts of the Babes in the Wood – Jack and Jill were split and it would have been nice to know which Jack and Jill and which team of panto babes were being used in the performance.

All the actors and panto babes have very strong singing voices. Sadly the orchestra is so loud that at times you can not hear the words of the songs. The choreography is very good. The choreographer, Kevan Allen, must have ruled with a rod of iron to get such well timed and performed dances from the cast. Every one is in time to the music and the whole of the stage is utilised.

The impossibly quick costumes changes are plentiful and fast. A Formula 1 team would be proud of the split second timing of the costume changes that the back stage staff are capable of. There hardly seems to be a heartbeat from when a character goes off and comes back on in an entirely different costume.

All in all a romping good night out for all the family.

Runs until Sunday 12th January 2014

Writers: Matt Crosby and Michael Fentiman Musical Director: Matt Smith Director: Michael Fentiman Reviewer: Flip Miller You know Christmas is coming with the annual trip to the Arts Theatre pantomime. This year’s offering is Robin Hood. Although not your usual pantomime you will not be disappointed. This story of Robin Hood, written by the show’s Dame Matt Crosby and the Director Michael Fentiman is a hybrid of Robin Hood and Babes in the Wood. Young Robin, played by Ross Hunter, returns to Nottingham where the feisty Maid Marion played by Laura Want has issues with Robin and his mildly misogynistic…

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The South East team is under the editorship of Nicole Craft. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

2 comments

  1. Avatar

    Good review but I thought Ross Hunter was incredible as Robin Hood

  2. Avatar

    very excited about bring my two kids to their first pantomime, 5yrs & 3yrs. loved the arts theatre first of all, perfect size – great acoustics. disappointed with the show, cannot understand they there have to be sexual undertones for a family show, disliked my 2 children having to hear the ‘i’m too sexy’ song or hear ‘you’re ‘fit’! isn’t she fit etc. etc. from Jonny Weldon. if they can make jokes about the lib dems and UK supermarkets then why can’t they keep the comedy to other similar topics instead of always having to have a whole lusting after the female theme to things. i really do not think it is necessary. 2nd half was better than the first although it kicked off with about 3 songs and 3 dances straight away and then finally got into the more typical panto stuff i’d be hoping would show itself with the ‘he’s behind you’ and the funny floating skeletons and more interaction between stage & audience. Such a shame the entire show isn’t made of such sketches, it would be so much funnier and appealing for young children – they would have such a laugh. instead i cannot help thinking that the panto overall is geared towards the adults. Stephen Beckett was absolutely excellent though!!!!