TALE TRAIL TO ROBIN HOOD & MARIAN
by Sarah Richardson.
New Vic Theatre (Stephen Joseph Studio) Etruria Road ST5 0JG To 24 December 2015.
11.15am 19, 21-24 Dec.
1pm 19, 21-24 Dec.
3pm 21, 22 Dec.
Runs 45 min No interval.
TICKETS: 01782 717962.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 14 December.
Another treasurable New Vic Tale Trail.
Tucked around the back of the New Vic Theatre, in its Stephen Joseph Studio, is another of the annual treats for young children with teachers, carers or parents savvy and alert enough to book tickets in time for the annual ‘Tale Trail’.
It’s a piece related to each year’s main New Vic Christmas show, assembling the theatre’s production skills – simple yet atmospheric settings, props and costumes – with their Education Department’s expertise in relating to young children and involving them in the action.
This year they had a tougher job than usual, for the Robin Hood legend is a more disparate matter than the usual single-author story of under-floor Borrowers, multiple Dalmatians, a Lion, Witch and Wardrobe, or whatever. Still the basic story structure invites audiences into a welcoming room where there are objects to be put to use as the wedding of Robert of Locksley is in preparation – until events are interrupted by Prince John declaring Robert – Robin Hood as he becomes – an outlaw.
Audience members join his escape to the forest, along a narrow wooded passage haunted by sinister music. Then, divided in two, the group begins establishing the Forest home, and is able to make judgments about travellers – the poor who deserve free food, or the wealthy who seek to avoid payment.
This is enacted by two performers, and, as usual with the Tale Trail, one – Robin – stays as a guide through the story, while the other plays all other roles, with some nifty costume changes behind the scenes. One joy of becoming an experienced Tale Trailer is to look for the motives that allow this second actor’s various characters to leave the action for a change.
But the Trails are designed for new theatre audiences, their clarity, level of guided reasoning – mingling explanation with suggestion while opening the possibility of choices to audience-members – certainly working for the young audience from Sutherland Primary Academy in the Blurton district of Stoke, whose class teacher found it stimulated considerable discussion back in school.
Education and entertainment in a nutshell. New Vic Tale Trails are an annual pathway to cultural treasure.
Servant/Prince John/Young Much/Marian: Hannah Edwards.
Robin Hood: Jamie Robertson.
Director: Sarah Richardson.
Designer: Laura Clarkson.
Lighting: Daniella Beattie.
Sound: James Earls-Davis.
Composer: James Atherton.
Costume: Lis Evans.