Festive 21/22North East & YorkshirePantomimeReview

The Adventures of Robin Hood – Gala Theatre, Durham

Reviewer: Anna Ambelez

Writers & Directors:  Neil Armstrong & Paul Hartley   

The Gala is always one of the first North East pantomimes to herald in the Christmas season. The experienced pairing of Armstrong and Hartley generally produces an original, if not to say unusual version of traditional Christmas tales. This year even the subject, Robin Hood, is unusual.

From the minute the lights dim the lively music and revolving coloured lighting flooding the auditorium, the packed audience, especially the children, get into true panto mood, raising the roof screaming and clapping.

Enter the Sheriff of Nottingham (Neil Armstrong) the evil baddie and boy is he ‘bad’ this year, oh yes he is! Armstrong further fans the audience reaction getting them to fever pitch while he sets out the plot with the aid of modern technology. The first big musical dance number introduces Robin Hood (Jacob Anderton) in the forest. This is well choreographed (Amanda Woods) with four professional dancers (Thomas Adams, Rethea, Lauren Hunter, Bradley Trevethan) taking on various featured parts.. The young performers take on excellent roles as the four corrupt monks of Murton and fifth as Little John (Katie Thompson).

The half hour wait for the ever popular Hartley as Will Scarlett is worth it, always a winner with the audience. Will’s mother, Dame Gertie Gossip (Paul Dunn) can be relied upon to give his great unique take on a dame; Friar Tuck (Kylie Ann Ford) is presented as a lovely friendly Geordie; great to welcome back Lauren Waine as Dennis of Dawdon and the newcomer Millie Binks as Maid Marian with a great voice; altogether a very talented cast.

The expected ‘slop’ scene .goes down well with a variety of fight scenes and a resounding community song at the end. Some traditional panto ingredients are absent, like the take-off scene and many ‘oh yes it is’ opportunities missed, as the audience are certainly up for them with. The show is very story led, with more plot than you can shake a quarterstaff at.

The visual aspect of panto is so important and it is well considered in this show. Emily Bazendale’s  great costumes deserve a special mention, an ever changing spectacle with each number. The well designed sets have various cut outs giving a plethora of exits and entrance on various levels, adding extra interest. The overall show is well lit by Elliot Nelson and complemented by impressive sound effects by Ryan Davidson. It is an extra bonus to have live music excellently provided by Josh Tarrier and his four accompanists.

Runs until 9th January 2022

The Reviews Hub Score

Entertaining Spectacle

The Reviews Hub - Yorkshire & North East

The Yorkshire & North East team is under the editorship of Mark Clegg. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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