Writer: Alan McHugh
Director: Ian Talbot
Reviewer: Maggie Constable
If you are fancying a fun foray into the forest, Sherwood in fact, there is no better place to be than Milton Keynes Theatre for the next month or so. It’s time to don those green tights and join in the adventures of Robin Hood, starring family-favourite actor Shane Richie in the title role. You will not be disappointed.
Everyone will know the legend but QDos Productions adds that special mix of action-packed fun and frolics, magic and wit, to say nothing of acrobatics. Then there’s the audience participation; an absolute must in any panto and particularly well done in this one. So we find ourselves cheering for our hero, Robin Hood, as he strives to help the poor of the village and to combat the evil Sheriff of Nottingham, aided and abetted by his loyal troupe of Merry Men. Maid Marion, with whom Robin is falling in love, is never far away.
Shane Richie, who has previously taken on the rôle of our eponymous hero for QDos, oozes laddish charm and sassiness. He has a real warmth about him, never more than when he is working the audience or talking to the children. He is joined by comedian and panto regular, Peter Piper, as Friar Tuck. There is some decent banter between the pair which develops well in the second part of the show. They are especially funny at dealing with the ‘mishaps’ together – the audience is never quite sure what to believe. Piper’s Tuck is, in many ways, the pantomime dame in this show and makes a good foil to Robin’s character.
Gina Murray brings us the Spirit of Sherwood and does so with confidence and a real stage presence. She has a lovely voice but it is just a shame that it is sometimes smothered by the music. As Maid Marion, Zoe George is lively, engaging and sweet. Then, by contrast, there is the nasty Sheriff of Nottingham, the rôle performed by Pete Gallagher. What a consummate professional he is; a real class act and a totally convincing and dastardly panto baddie. He has the perfect voice for the rôle and struts around charismatically, involving his audience as only a really good baddie can. The ensemble cast is spot on with some excellent and well-performed choreography.
The aptly named Acromaniacs, taking on the roles of the Merry Men, provide some super entertainment with their beautifully-timed acrobatic romps, albeit their first outing is a tad prolonged. Phil Hitchcock’s magic as Merlin the Magician is nothing short of amazing but no spoilers here.
Sets and costumes are very colourful and effective. The strange 3D section is incredible and has the audience shrieking. Altogether this panto has everything that one might expect and want and holds up the Christmas panto tradition perfectly. Not to be missed, oh no it isn’t.
Runs Until 13 January 2019 | Image: Contributed