The story of Robin Hood is age old, and whether you are acquainted with it through the 1973 Disney film, or just through its sheer notoriety, mention that an adaptation of Robin Hood is being performed and just wait for seats to fill up. This was definitely the case with Theatre with Teeth and Shotgun Theatre’s collaborative and original musical adaptation of Robin Hood, ‘SHERWOOD’.
The audience was buzzing with anticipation on opening night as we were let into the Cabaret Room. Seats were mere centimetres away from the set, and, along with the actors entering on stage from all angles, the audience were able to be fully immersed in the performance. The production began with Renaissance music and beautiful harmonies and duets from the cast as the opening number. There was a prevalence of double acts in the performance and whether it be the two narrators, Prince John and the Sheriff of Nottingham, or Marian and Elizabeth, the rapport between cast members acting in a duo was electric, even if ensemble work did come across as slightly cold at times.
Robin Hood is a story not about outlaws, but rather, the “lawfully challenged”
Prince John was a massive presence on stage and allowed the audience to be privy to rants about his long-suffering spite towards his brother Richard I and made the importance of swans for a wedding very evident. His morbid excitement over bloodshed, which he shared with the sheriff, never failed to provide comic relief. The scribe-killers sketch had the audience in hysterics, the multi-role taken on by the actor who played Little John and Richard I being superb and the comic timing, genius. The robbing scene was also well done, the comic exasperation of the duo being robbed along with the pathetic yet earnest attempt made by Marian and Elizabeth to hold them at tree-branch point eliciting uproarious laughter.
Mention that an adaptation of Robin Hood is being performed and just wait for seats to fill up
In terms of the music in this musical, the actors’ voices were all exceptional and the orchestral accompaniment was very well-composed. The lyrics to some songs seemed forced at times in an effort for the words to fit the melody, yet genuine messages and their heartfelt delivery were nevertheless conveyed. The numerous solos were absolutely captivating, especially those sung by Marian. The petite blonde-haired, blue-eyed and pixie-featured actress had the audience enraptured and utterly enamoured by her innocence and sweet singing voice. Robin Hood owned the stage in his solos, hitting notes and projecting in a way that would make his A Capella group proud. The fight sequences and choreography throughout the performance were particularly impressive, the sword-fighting being skilfully done and the physical smack of Robin’s head against the floor being met by gasps from the audience.
The musical culminated cyclically with the opening song recurring at the end. As promised, the dark comedy proved to be just that, with the ultimately bittersweet moral message being that life goes on despite the fact that the musical’s protagonist had died. Robin dying in his battle with Prince John had one questioning the presupposition of a Disney happy ending, but just went to show that things are not what they seem in this forest, for this is not Disney. This is Sherwood.