A bit like James Bond and Doctor Who, we all have our own personal Robin Hood. For me, it’s luscious-locked Michael Praed from the 80s series, for others it might be Kevin Costner, Russell Crowe or even the Disney fox. As of last night, for our seven year old, Robin Hood will forever be Neil Roberts who plays the famous outlaw in Robin Hood: The Arrow of Destiny with heart and hilarity at York Theatre Royal.
This new production turns the traditional tale on its head: Marian leads the charge against the dastardly Sheriff of Nottingham and his hapless sidekick, Guy of Gisbourne. She goes in search of the legendary Robin Hood to help save the villagers from disaster, and when he doesn’t quite live up to his heroic reputation, she comes up with a plan. This is no damsel in distress – she’s quick-witted, strong and the perfect hero for the modern audience.
It’s a show that rivals the pantomime for silliness, with talking trees, walking bushes, puppetry, muppetry, lots of great songs (with rapping!) and some cracking one-liners from an energetic and talented cast with a gift for comic timing. We had a soft spot for Little John’s quips, and the rapport between the Sheriff and his nephew could have Berwick Kaler and Martin Barrass looking over their shoulders (but we love you, Berwick and Martin).
A shout out for the young local actors supporting the cast, too, who did a brilliant job and had our son working out how one day he might also be up on stage. He’d been counting down to seeing the show for weeks, so I’d wondered whether it could possibly live up to his high expectations. The morning after we saw it, he appeared by the side of my bed and said ‘Mummy, do you remember last night? It was brilliant’. He then spent the rest of the day quoting lines and trying to remember the words from the songs. I think we can safely say it was a hit.