With a critically acclaimed team at the helm of Stratford East’s pantomime this year I was expecting an unusually festive theatrical experience and that’s exactly what I got with Robin Hood. A wonderfully fresh production with a talented cast; it may not be the most spectacular pantomime you’ll see this year but it’s definitely one to watch!
The tale of Robin Hood is given an East London spin as the famous archer and his merry men parade around ‘StratEastHam’ in an attempt to stop the evil Prince John and discover the truth behind the disappearance of King Richard.
The original script from Trish Cooke and Robert Hyman is largely effective, but the second act far outweighs the first. I was really impressed with the original score but again, the songs shone after the interval. King Richard’s second act opener and the big finale were simply superb.
You have to commend the great casting for this offbeat pantomime. Michael Bertenshaw (Prince John) was a fantastic choice, a commanding and perfectly audacious panto villain. Robin Hood (Oliver Wellington) and his trio of merry men (played by Alex Chang, Geraint Rhys Edwards and Ashley Joseph) worked so well together, immediately setting the tone with a fun and energetic opening number. Nadia Albina’s performance as Marion was very endearing but I felt that her solo number unfortunately didn’t suit her voice. A mention must also go to Ashley Campbell for King Richard’s incredible tapping.
The standout actor by far was Derek Elroy as Nurse – an entertaining, witty performance with perfect audience interaction. His romance with Geraint Rhys Edwards was hilarious and he really got the audience on side from the first note of his coconut number!
There were a few little stumbles but you have to hand it to this show – it does so well on a budget compared to the big regional theatres at this time of year. It’s quirky and unorthodox but above all fun and you can tell the children had an absolute riot, probably helped by the opportunity to make paper planes in the middle of a show!
Robin Hood is showing until 23rd January 2016 and tickets are available from just £5 on theTheatre Royal Stratford East’s website.
Production shot credits: Robert Day