WANTED! ROBIN HOOD
by Charles Way.
The Lowry (Quays Theatre) Pier 8 Salford Quays M50 3AZ To 11 January 2014.
Runs 2hr 15min One interval.
TICKETS: 0843 208 6010.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 16 December.
A busy, emotionally complex and exciting time in the Hood.
There are lots of Robin Hood pantomimes around this year, and this isn’t one of them. As his double-edged title implies, Charles Way has written an adventure story that takes its subject seriously. And takes an unusual line. Aged 12 Robin and Marian are separated, and in one sense the play is about the lost sense of completeness amid the turmoil brought by external forces.
Forces in society which determine lives, disrupting personalities as well as relationships. This is no merry pastoral Robin Hood, roasting venison and laughingly letting off arrows. For much of the time Robin’s life is daylight robbery. Having a purpose beyond survival and retaliating for the hurt he’s felt at his childhood separation takes time, and means learning from others.
Meanwhile, Ciaran Kellgren’s rough-mannered Robin seems to carry a deep-fat fried chip of a grudge on his shoulder, while Amelia Donkor – not so transcendent as in last year’s Arabian Nights but still a strong-willed presence – as Marian tries dealing with the duty imposed upon her, a loveless marriage with the Sheriff of Nottingham who, in Emilio Doorgasingh’s well-judged performance, combines the inner viciousness and public-image awareness of the kind of politician who thrives in the sort of society which gets its ethical back-up from the likes of Way’s Bishop.
This Sheriff doesn’t rant but quietly reveals his steely selfishness, the deadly opposite to the passionate life-enhancing humanity of Donkor’s Marian. The trick for Robin is to learn to deal with the one and appreciate the quality of feeling of the other.
All this happens within a colourful, exciting (arrows seem to fly), sometimes humorous story. Christopher Wright’s useless Eustace of a servant provides a fair amount of humour, while as Wilfred his fate adds the pathos of the innocent victim. There’s tension and danger as Peter Landi’s Guy of Gisborne plots against Robin, while the portcullis-fronted castle shows the stern wall of authority, contrasted by the lone bowman sometimes seen in its high window, forming the challenge of the free.
And the eventual re-introduction of young Robin and Marian provides a fine emotional completeness.
Marian of York: Amelia Donkor.
Walter Fitzwarren: Emilio Doorgasingh.
Robin Hood/Soldier: Ciaran Kellgren.
Friar Tuck/Sir Guy of Gisborne/Soldier: Peter Landi.
Will Scarlett/Bishop/Soldier: Oliver Llewellyn-Jenkins.
Little John/Soldier: Umar Malik.
Much/Old Man/Soldier: Dan Parr.
Eustace/Wilfred/Soldier: Christopher Wright.
Young Marian: Tillie Amartey/Geraldine Spencer.
Young Robin: Lewis Hamilton, Dalton Reece Cartwright.
Director: Amy Leach.
Designer: Hayley Grindle.
Lighting: Ciaran Bagnall.
Sound: Tom Mills, Paul Gregory.
Composer: Tim Mills.
Puppets: Max Humphries.
Fight director: Renny Krupinski.
Assistant director: Rebecca Taylor.