Tales of Sherwood's Robin Hood has come to Canal Walk this winter and it's a "do not miss" experience for the whole family. This is as slick a production as I've ever seen. And no, I'm certainly not going to give the proviso of "for a matinee style production", which this is. From the sets, casting, script, lighting, direction and score, this is clearly an amazing collaboration between Fred Abrahmse and Marcel Meyer.
As you enter and take your unreserved seats, you are met by a beautifully crafted and designed stage. The multi-level stage and lighting rig, which syncs well with the onstage multimedia and fanciful puppetry, sets the scene for both young and old to be carried away on a whirlwind adventure which pits the wily Robin Hood and his band of merry men against the villainous Sheriff of Nottingham. This is exactly the kind of production which will ignite a passion for the arts in a young one’s life.
It’s colourful. It’s a wonderful and entertaining script with an engaging cast. The show is fast paced enough to enthrall even the most sugar enhanced ADHD fuelled kiddie, while also balanced with the occasional slow love song to calm down and re-engage the whimsy that is theatre. It all comes together brilliantly to make the characters rounded and their emotional turmoil that much more believable.
In this action packed adventure, Robin Hood (Stephen Jubber) must regain the veneration of his loyal and trustworthy men after having Maid Marian (Jenny Stead) best him at the bow in a friendly competition. It was refreshing to see this change in the atypical fairy tale narrative, as Maid Marian as heroine was in no means seen as inferior or portrayed as the historic gender stereotype of damsel in distress.
Each performer adds something unique and beguiling to the energy of the show in the manner they embrace their roles both as individuals and collectively. You can’t but applaud their onstage antics, particularly as the villains are comical even when decidedly evil!
I would feel remiss to not mention the hilarious and misguided interaction between a besotted Little John (Michael William Wallace) and an undercover maiden, Oswald the Unready (Richard Wright-Firth), as ordered by the “Evil” Sheriff of Nottingham. The wonderful and much maligned Sheriff is brilliantly played by Jason Ralph, and even delivers a performance that might have some in the audience wishing they could just give the poor man a hug, as he clearly is in need of. The energetic Ellen-a-Dale (Candice Van Litsenborgh) and Alan-a-Dale (Carlo Daniels) also both deliver their performances with beauty and commitment in their own important supportive roles to Robin Hood and Maid Marian. The entire piece is moderated well with the deep resonating timbre of Friar Tuc (Siya Sikawuti) and Narrator Wise Old Oak (Shaun Klaasen) who also voices our dear Sheriff of Notingham’s pet “parrot”, Rusticulous.
Before you blink, the rapid paced show is winding down after a roller coaster of laughs, intrigue, catchy musical numbers and an easy to follow story line, which brings our players full circle and neatly ties up all loose ends.
Not often do I find myself complimenting the front of house staff or production management teams, but in this theatrical treat they deserve a special mention too. Normally they are the behind the scenes lifters, movers, shakers and doers that make these amazing shows just that, amazing spectacles to observe. This is the exception, I saw some truly wonderful young learners who represent the LEAD school initiatives in the Western Cape pull their weight. They were professional, well spoken, polite and courteous. I am very pleased that funds raised through this production will support these very friendly and eager to assist learners who are a credit to their institutions.
It is also a nasty habit of mine to sit as near to the sound control booth as I can so that I can peek behind the technical curtain. After watching a fairly major mic malfunction on Robin Hood’s headset be dealt with in a quick and timely fashion, I was totally blown away with the level of skill and professionalism stage manager Melissa van Heerden brings to this production.
All-in-all Robin Hood as a show was sheer poetry to watch. Thank you to everyone who played a role in giving onstage life to this concept. I highlight recommend that you book your tickets at Computicket today to go share in the fairy tale fun before run ends 16 July. Encore!