Home / Drama / Robin Hood – The Dukes at Williamson Park, Lancaster

Robin Hood – The Dukes at Williamson Park, Lancaster

Writer: Kevin Dyer

Director: Joe Sumsion

Reviewer: Paul Jones


Robin Hood - Dukes LancasterThe 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.

Runs until August 17th

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    Michael Davies

    Robin Hood at Williamson Park is bewilderingly poor. Dyer’s script is lame and lumpen, Sumsion’s direction is witless, the leading actors are charmless, and the stewards marshalling the audience are joyless jobsworths. The natural setting and the view over Morecambe Bay are the only redeeming features, but you don’t need a ticket to enjoy those.

  2. Avatar

    For 20+ years I’ve enjoyed the Dukes’ plays in Williamson Park; only the weather could threaten the pleasure of those evenings. This year it was the PLAY that spoilt the evening. It was dull, slow and totally lacked excitement. This production seemed to waste the wonderful setting that was at its disposal. After the interval I couldn’t face part 2 and opted to enjoy the view across Morecambe Bay and a brilliant sunset.

  3. Avatar

    Our family loved this production, the main review is accurate – the play is entertaining, well staged and well acted. The story is different to the film versions we have been given lately but all the better for that. An excellent evening out and super way to enjoy a beautiful park and the excellent weather

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    I have to agree with Michael and Judy above, What a waste of a perfect setting, the modern interpretation just didn’t work and the play didn’t flow. The characters lacked any kind of charisma and it was a total disappointment.

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    Ignore the joyless numpties above. The play was fantastic. It dealt brilliantly with the transition from day into night, it had some amazing special effects and some excellent musical moments (everybody can sing!), and it was an awful lot of fun. Go see it.