Adaptor and Director: Teresa Heskins
Reviewer: Carol Lovatt
It is fair to say that the festive season is clearly upon us when The New Vic Theatre launches its big (and popular) Christmas production, which this year, happens to be the story of Robin Hood and Marian. Linking it in with the fact that the Magna Carta is 800 years old, this play centres on the story of how the charter came into existence and why the famous document was sealed by King John at Runnymede. It is an important story, and one that is at the heart of our history; after all, the document is considered to form the cornerstone of our liberty and democracy and one that still resonates today.
Robin Hood and Marian tells that tale in an exciting and accessible way. It brings history to life and informs and entertains in equal measure. It is a narrative full of drama and intrigue. The story of a nobleman, Robert, but who we have come to know as Robin. He is loyal to the King but not to Prince John and, as a result, is banished to the forest where he gathers a band of merry men and is joined by his one true love, Marian. The play is a feast of swashbuckling action and intense drama as the renegades challenge authority and create mayhem and mischief for the monarch in order to fight for a fairer and more just society.
Isaac Stanmore as Robin Hood is thoughtful and courageous in his rôle as defender of the underclass. He is supported magnificently by Crystal Condie as Marian, a woman who clearly believes in girl power in a time before it was ever conceived. Perry Moore is well cast as the weak and duplicitous Prince John, who needs his mother to direct him in life and Jonathan Charles is particularly menacing as the Sheriff who is determined to bring Robin to his master to ensure he gets what he deserves. There is a superb supporting cast with the inclusion of the Young Company, teams of children who work hard to bring that added youthful element to the sometimes dark and intense adult dialogue. More involvement of the Young Company would have added additional charm to the play.
The voices of both the adult and young cast are in good form throughout, with plenty of musical renditions from an original score accompanied by a plethora of traditional tunes played by the multi-tasking actors.
Robin Hood is a story which most people are familiar with and it will be enjoyable to many over the festive season. At times, the play can seem somewhat repetitive and some aspects were less audible than desired but on the whole, it is a production which has universal appeal and the exciting duels and archery scenes create an exciting theatrical experience. The traditional use of puppetry, which has become a New Vic festive staple, is also an attraction and although it may be a little challenging for younger children, it is a production that the whole family should enjoy.
Runs until 30 January 2016 | Image: Contributed