Gold Coast Review – The Legend that was Robin Hood.
A review by Douglas Kennedy
Sherwood: The Adventures of Robin Hood by Ken Ludwig.
Directed by Nathan French.
Javeenbah Theatre Company, Nerang
Season 22 September– 7 October 2023.
Bookings: [email protected]
Duration: Two hours (including 15-minute interval)
Photo credits: Jeff Butterworth (Buttery Smooth Images).
Promotional Videography Bev Creates.
Set design Jeff Butterworth.
Lighting and Sound Colin Crow.
Costume design Christine McLachlan.
Ensemble: James Greenwood, Taylor Holmes, Rory Impellizzeri, Sarah Hunt, Rory Schiele, Daniel Willis, Ethan Speight, Oliva Hardcastle.
The story which inhabits US playwright Ken Ludwig’s Sherwood the Adventures of Robin Hood is as familiar to the English-speaking world as bangers and mash.
Thanks to a myriad of ballads, plays, films and books it has a paramount place in all our thoughts and the name alone conjures up an array of iconic markers.
We know, for example, that Robin took from the rich to give to the poor, lived in Sherwood Forest with his merry men and Maid Marian, that his arch enemies were Prince John, the Sherrif of Nottingham and Guy of Gisbourne, and that Richard the Lion Heart would be his salvation.
The only thing that nobody knows for sure is whether Robin and his mates – including Friar Tuck, Little John and Much the Miller – were real
or simply born out of 13th and 14th century ballads.
So, while this recent retelling of the story, it was first produced in 2017, is faithful to its classical narrative, it does have its own distinctive flavour.
That is all the hallmarks of the English traditional pantomime complete with lashings of silliness, comic twists and even a little gender bending.
That’s thanks to the roles of Prince John and later King Richard by Oliva Hardcastle who brings great gusto to the characters.
The show stops short of a pantomime dame.
It’s interesting to note that director Nathan French has not only staged several pantomimes, but also written four of his own including Cinderella, Peter Pan, Alice in Wonderland and Jack and the Beanstalk.
The result with this Javeenbah production of Robin Hood is a good fun production which demands that audience leave reality at the door and embrace two hours of silliness and jollity.
The cast, led by James Greenwood’s Robin Hood and Friar Tuck (Rory Impellizzeri) in the role of narrator, is obviously having a ton of fun.
The villains, led by Daniel Willis’ Guy of Gisbourne and Ethan Speight’s Sherif of Nottingham, are suitably malicious and uncompromising.
Bringing some feminine charm to the proceedings are Sarah Hunt as Much’s caring daughter and Taylor Holmes as Maid Marian.
Together they all laugh and joke their way through the show, which conveys standard sub-plots such as the quarterstaff fight on a bridge between Robin and Little John, the archery contest designed to trap Robin and the classic sword fight betwixt Robin and Sir Guy.
The story set in 1194 – when King Richard was imprisoned overseas – even includes a period song and dance or two, as well as some literary lines, which had yet to be written.
Sherwood is all about having a good time and putting the world outside, and the horrors, seen nightly on the news, aside for at least a couple of hours.
Both the audience and the cast were having a ball the night we saw the show, which should prove to be a genuine crowd pleaser.
It’s worth finishing this review with a congratulations to the technical team, which produced a set that doubled as a castle and the green wood, as well as an array of period costumes, props, and devices.