Robin Hood by Jennifer Maclean and Justin Watson. Ickle Pickle Productions at Belconnen Theatre, 2008:January 15, 18, 25 at 11am and 7pm; January 16, 17, 22, 23, 24 at 11am and 2.30pm; January 19, 26 at 2.30pm. Bookings: 6247 1223.
Theatre should be judged in its context. Ickle Pickle is essentially a community theatre. Robin Hood is as much about teaching and giving stage experience to young performers, in this case from age 9, as it is about entertaining young and old in the audience.
The choreography is mostly routine but by using popular songs (often with drastically re-written lyrics) and keeping the timing upbeat and precise, Hannah McFadden and musical director Adam Bluhm kept our interest in the musical numbers at the opening performance.
The script has a number of good ideas like Robin Hood gaining a pardon by turning from theft to running a legitimate charity for the poor, but the exposition early in Act 1 was a bit dull, especially for young ones in the audience. The traditional theme of the contest between The Sheriff and Robin for the hand of Maid Marion is played out with several interesting twists, but I wondered what happened to the notion of charity. Robin wins, of course, but seems to settle for a life of handouts from his upper class wife. Maybe Marion’s father, the King in this version, should only agree if she becomes a commoner and helps run the charity.
After interval, Act 2 brightens up when we meet Friar Tuck’s half-brother, the Muslim ruler of an unnamed “Middle East” country. On the entertainment side, Dave Smith does a wonderful marriage ceremony singing Love Me Tender as Friar Tuck, and runs a mean casbah as Sheik Yabooty. His character also raised the satiric standard which should be waved in all good pantomimes, and could offend some in his references to The Prophet among bare midriffs and, on the other hand, as Friar Tuck again, to his double standards “after all, I do work for the Church.” Mind you, it was Robin, cross-dressed in harem gear, who questioned Tuck’s standards.
With more laughs for small people in Act 1, like the yucky food competition at the end, and knowing that the pace of the show will improve as the young players gain experience, Robin Hood will entertain while achieving Ickle Pickle’s community theatre aims.
Return to Frank McKone's Home Page