Writer: Kevin Dyer
Director: Joe Sumsion
Reviewer: Paul Jones
The Dukes hugely successful Walkabout Theatre makes a welcome return to Williamson Park this summer with their latest production, Robin Hood. A vast, exciting adventure set within the stunning grounds of Williamson Park.
Last year due to government cuts Lancaster saw an unwelcome break in the annual proceedings of their Walkabout Theatre productions. Audiences were left without the magical adventures, where fairy tales and legends come to life in front of their very eyes. This year the magic continues and The Dukes bring us Robin Hood.
Kevin Dyer’s tale is not the traditional folk lore we know of. It is a retelling of the ‘rob from the rich to give to the poor’ story. This time the focus is more on Marion and her band of outlaws rather than being led by Robin and what an engaging tale it is. The action starts with Robin standing up to the soldiers of the Sherriff, who use modern technologies and tracking devices to keep tabs on the lowly people of the town. We are in a time where reading and learning is prohibited for the lower classes. Music, theatre, and dancing is also a criminal offence, self-expression seems to be frowned upon, so when Robin Hood meets Marion and her team of outlaws we are introduced to a group of bohemians who seem to live by their own rules.
The group is led by Loren O’Dair as Marion, with a bounty on her head for 20,000 euros the audience are made aware of how dangerous she is from the start. O’Dair is a strong leading lady, channelling the strength of Ripley and Clarice Starling; this is not the damsel in distress we are used to. Among her group of thieves and misfits are Scarlet (Lauren Silver) and Tucky (Sue McCormick), both of the ladies bring not only drama to the performance but add to the comedy of the show. They interact with the children in the audience yet invite us all into the story. When they first encounter Robin they are shocked by his act of kindness towards a stranger. He shows them the good they could be doing and teaches them the value of giving to those in need. Robin played by Noel White is engaging, charming, handsome, and strong he is every inch the hero.
Credit must go to director Joe Sumsion who has created a dramatic experience which is suitable for ages 5 -95. The moral issues of the story are never dumbed down yet the action and pace is perfectly timed to keep the younger members of the audience interested. A great blend of drama and comedy, the play is never too heavy, nor is it too pantomime. You can tell every aspect of the production has been perfectly crafted by Sumsion, who has turned the large surroundings into what feels like an intimate performance.
The scenery is really the final cast member in this production, the technical aspects involved never fail to amaze and it is testament to the crew on how all these tricks and effects are created. The 3 hour running time soon flies and as the sun sets over Lancaster the audience is cheering on the group in their final battle against the Sherriff.
Luckily due to popular demand the run has been extended by a week giving people extra chance to see what is a stunning production of epic proportions. Robin Hood is a fantastic night of entertainment for the whole family.