Reviewed by Donald Madgwick for The Croydon Advertiser
Outlaws can’t see the wood for the trees
We occasionally see, around this time of year, shows which might be described as half-pantos.
Such a hybrid is David Neilson’s Robin Hood: The Truth behind The Green Tights which is currently being presented by Theatre Workshop Coulsdon at the Youth and Social Centre, Chipstead Valley Road.
It is nearly five years since I last saw this show. On the evidence of the Coulsdon production, I hope it will be at least another five before I see it again. Call me Scrooge if you will, but director Chris Argles has really got himself lost in Sherwood Forest, and even LEsley Argles, as the friendly Tree, is operating on some remote branch line.
Even allowing for the fact that the many short scenes are all divided by full curtains, the production is wearisomely slow and drawn out. Somewhere, a serio-comic adventure yarn of about two hours is struggling to get out. What we have goes on a great deal longer than that, and finds no unity between the disparate elements. Attempts to emphasise the panto component get bogged down in a welter of leaden-paced dialogue.
The reluctant hero is a cowardly serf called Albert Ross, but the real albatross is the whole enterprise – round our necks. Tim Young tries hard in this role, with the assistance of Lisa King as his shrewish wife, but they are fighting a losing battle.
The villains, Paul M Ford as the Sheriff and Richard Lloyd as Guy of Gisbourne, give us nearly all the best moments. The spirit of panto is in their work, and their characters are robustly created, within the two-dimensional limits of the genre.
I did wonder why the Sheriff, not even knighted, should be addressed as Sire by his minions. Perhaps his ferocity scared them into it.
Mike Brown and Martin Cole are on hand in brokers men roles, and Simeon Dawes has some amusing touches as the time-serving Mouth.
It is in the Forest itself that the rot sets in, with Rob Ickinger’s lack-lustre Robin leading a wishy-washy band that includes one Will Scargill (who?) and a limp, prefumed Derek.
As Marian, Tanya Allison reveals a singing voice of some potential, but even she contrives to make a romantic ballad sound like a funeral dirge.
Mike Brown Jr
Paul M Ford
Technical Crew Details: