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Review BOV Robin Hood

Robin Hood is a girl
Review BOV Robin Hood

Robin Hood is a girl!
Oh, perhaps I should say spoiler alert but we won’t kiss-and-tell all.
In the traditions of panto dating back to even before music hall times when it was the ‘norm’ for the principal boy to be played by a young ‘actress’ Robin (Kerry Lovell) becomes Robyn (our spelling) in this noble Bristol Old Vic Christmas production.
And while brilliantly fulfilling the role of pantomime as a musical comedy for family entertainment The Wardrobe Ensemble as a band of brothers and sisters keeps the story gender fluid and politically aware.
It’s a marvellous Middle England romp with no smutty jokes – useless you count Will Scarlett (Tom England) ’s children drinking from a water trough people have pooped in - and only a mild threat of violence.
Will’s Mission Impossible moment was mind-blowing.
It is more the time of ‘smocks, frocks and frilly socks’ according to the narrator.
It retells the folklore of robbing the rich to give to the poor with a modern twist and through the eyes of a 12-year-old awkward schoolboy called JJ (Dorian Simpson) who is much like Marcus from the 2002 film About A Boy.
With the stage as its Tardis and a plot straight from Ocean’s Eleven and (Wo)Men in Tights (green) this time-travelling genius of a production keeps the legend alive.
Our outlaw Robin yearns to travel but to the Costa de Sol not the lands of the Crusades as this fallen hero battles with selfish morals because of past trauma.
This is a swashbuckling adventure with sword fights and bow-and-arrow shootouts.
The armed combat and dungeon scenes use simple special effects - effectively - from LED lighting sticks and wooden ladders as props.The backdrop sounds come from an up-to-date playlist rather than ballads of yesteryear including the addictive pop song by Bryan Adams Everything I Do For You from the Kevin Costner 1991 film Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.
Wandering minstrel Tom Crosley-Thorne is multi-talented but although all the cast were ace the standout nomination for us goes to JJ for an engaging and energetic performance.
We also loved the Sheriff of Nottingham (James Newton), aged 29 according to his annual birthday parties, who sports a hairdo much like Noel Fielding from Great British Bake Off only his is more ‘moveable’.
Take a bow too Friar Tuck (Jesse Meadows) who will be heading for AA in the new year and Maid Marion (Katja Quist), a beautiful bruiser in the Halle Berry genre.
The theatre billed the show as ‘when a 21st century kid slips through a crack in the time-space continuum, they crash into the middle of an epic fight between good and evil. It’s Sherwood Forest. The 12th century. An uneasy time of cunning thieves, dastardly villains and karaoke-singing monks. When the corrupt Sheriff of Nottingham sets in motion his vicious plan for ultimate power, it’s up to Robin Hood and the Merry Crew to pull off their toughest mission yet. Can they defeat the Sheriff before it’s too late and the forest is lost forever?’.
Yep, that sums it up nicely.
Robin Hood: The Legend of the Forgotten Forest It runs until Saturday, January 8, at various times. For tickets from £8 and more information go to the online box office at or call 0117 987 7877.
Please note strict Covid precautions are in place with the audience and staff wearing masks.

​Carol Deacon

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