ROBIN HOOD & MARIAN
adapted by Theresa Heskins.
New Vic Theatre Etruria Road ST5 0JG To 30 January 2016.
10.30am 24 Dec, 5-8, 12-15, 19-22, 16-20 Jan.
2.15pm 19, 21-23, 28-31 Dec, 2, 5, 9, 12, 14, 16, 21, 23, 28, 30 Jan.
3pm 24 Dec.
7.30pm 18, 21-23, 28-30 Dec, 2, 8, 9, 15, 16, 22, 23, 29, 30 Jan.
Audio-described 23 Jan 2.15pm.
Captioned 16 Jan 2.15pm.
Runs 2hr One interval.
TICKETS: 01782 717962.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 14 December.
Action and adventure rule the dramatic roost.
Anyone looking for evidence of Feminism’s impact should investigate how Robin Hood’s story is being told by various writers this year. The well-intentioned lad in green tends to be over-confident and impetuous. His stalwart sidekick Little John often disappears, sometimes replaced by a little Joan, while re-sexing can also hit others of the forest gang.
This allows a fairer distribution of roles among available actors, without turning the Sherriff’s forces into a female posse. But the way medieval England’s most famous redistributor of wealth is constantly outclassed in strategy and rescued from plot peril is noticeable around the land.
If, within one bound, Robin is free from danger, death or incarceration, that bound probably involves Marian. Certainly, in Newcastle-under-Lyme, adapter/director Theresa Heskins has played a smart game in retrieving Crystal Condie from the Staffordshire Hoard season earlier in the year as a lithe, decisive Marian, a character who deserves her equal billing in the title.
Heskins once again shows detailed understanding of her theatre’s space and relationship between actors and audience to produce an inventive, wrap-around adventure. Activity fills all available areas, including the auditorium’s full height. The active result is energetic and varied, almost entering the world of the musical at times.
Yet, despite the temptation of this year’s Magna Carta anniversary, the Sherwood legend presents a problem. Unlike the books about borrowers, dalmatians and globe-trotters upon which Heskins has built her theatre’s recent reputation for theatrically exciting narrative, the Robin Hood stories are an amalgam of characters and incidents with no strong story-spine.
It makes the development of character, upon which theatre so naturally focuses, more difficult. These characters are mostly fixed in a simplicity which, if broken, unbalances the story. And while it’s a brave attempt to enlist actuality at the end, with images of Magna Carta’s best-known clauses, they don’t relate directly to what’s been happening (anyway, it’s the later, accompanying Charter of the Forests which relates more closely to Robin’s band as outlaws).
So, dramatically events can’t match the bravura of Heskins’ style – which fortunately is as plentiful as it usual in her theatrical storytelling.
Sheriff: Jonathan Charles.
Marian: Crystal Condie.
Will Scarlet: Liam Gerrard.
Much Jr: Susan Harrison.
Kestrel: Sophia Hatfield.
Much Snr/Official: Bryn Holding.
Little John: David Kirkbride.
Prince John: Perry Moore.
Queen Eleanor: Charlotte Palmer.
Robin Hood: Isaac Stanmore.
Ensemble: Pippa Moss, Harrison Reeves, Steven Rostance.
Young Company: Wiilliam Brady, Elizabeth Daily-Hunt, Tristan Hood, Serena Lovatt Brown, Kirsty Lowe, Isobel Pestridge, Emily Sanzeri, Abigail Waller/Fiona Amigoni, Isobel Armstrong, Lily Clewes, Maria Conlon, Hannah Molyneux, Becky Newton, Joel Pierce Powell, Luke Pierce Powell/Sofia Bond, Holly Edwardws, Madeleine Forbes, Philippa Hancock, Liberty Reaney, Amy Sproston, Jack Sturrge, Libby Wallbank.
Director: Theresa Heskins.
Designer: Laura Clarkson, Lighting/Projections: Daniella Beattie.
Sound: James Earls-Davis, Alex Day.
Composer/Musical Director: James Atherton.
Choreographer: Beverley Edmunds.
Puppetry: Paschale Straiton.
Aerial consultant: Graeme Clint.
Fight director: Philip d’Orléans.
Assistant director: Bryn Holding.
Assistant choreographer: Zoei Cozens.
Assistant fight director: Nathaniel Marten.