HOOD: Various writers, Theatre Royal Nottingham, till 26th September


HOOD: Mufaro Makubika, James Graham, Tim Elgood, Laura Lomas, Andy Barrett, Brian Mitchell and Joseph Nixon.
Theatre Royal

Tkts 0115 989 5555 www.royalcentre-nottingham.co.uk.
Runs: 2h 20m: one interval: till 26th September.
Performance times: 7.30pm, (Matinee 2.00pm Weds).
Review: Alan Geary: 18th September 2015.

A tiresomely one-sided piece of agitprop.
Seven writers are each responsible for one of the six acts of Hood, except that the last has two. Each act is intended to present a different facet of Robin Hood – outlaw, agitator, lover and so on. But actually he’s a left-wing activist throughout.

And the message isn’t nuanced; this is a one-opinion play, an over-sugary slice of agitprop with every issue presented as a matter of black and white. There’s no admission, for instance, that in the end railways just might have been good for Britain. Or that it’s the middle, not the working-class that typically fights to preserve architectural heritage.

The most interesting act is set in the sixties. Some activists are trying but partially failing to stop the Sheriff (Adam Morris) driving a super highway clean through Nottingham city centre. In the end he compromises by calling it Maid Marian Way. The opposition peters out partly because one faction drifts off into ineffectual hippiedom.

The 1940 act is fun. Barrack-room detail is accurate; nevertheless it’s a pity that two of the soldiers, Privates Dale and Littlejohn (Ed Thorpe and Ewen MacIntosh), have bushy beards, the sort of incongruity that you get in compressed plays with only six actors.

The best is set in 1906 during the election that brought the seminal Liberal administration into power. Robin Loxley (Jonah Russell) is a Labour candidate, Marian (Jasmine Blackborow) a suffragette. Our villain here is the local paper’s proprietor, a titled landowner who’s leaning on the editor to side with the reactionaries.

Frankly, most of the acting is sub-standard. A reasonable performance though comes from Morris. He’s the Mandelsonesque smoothie throughout; and wily and cowardly with it.

It’s done on an adaptable set, with enjoyable sound and special effects – the trains, the inevitable extract from a Churchill speech to introduce the 1940 scene, and more.

This proposes an enduring spirit of protest in Nottingham, symbolised by a morphing Robin Hood. But it’s also about the city over the century and a half since the Theatre Royal first opened its doors. As such it’s a homage to the common people. Such a shame therefore that it’s so tiresomely one-sided.

Scarlett: Alex Bedward.
Marian: Jasmine Blackborow.
Little John: Ewen MacIntosh.
The Sheriff of Nottingham: Adam Morris.
Robin: Jonah Russell.
Alan A Dale: Ed Thorpe.

Director: Jack McMamara.
Designer: Rhys Jarman.
Lighting Designer: Mark Pritchard.
Composer and Sound Designer: Tom Mills.

2015-09-22 10:53:03

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