Review: Robin Hood – Le Navet Bete
Ella Minty, Print Arts + Lit Editor, reviews Le Navet Bete’s latest production, Robin Hood.
In a brilliant but peculiar mash-up of legends, Merlin (Nick Bunt) is the first character on stage in Robin Hood, a family-friendly pantomime by Le Navet Bete, an award-winning Exeter-based theatre company. Joined by Morgana (Jodie Micciché), the panto’s villain, the action soon unfolds: we meet Robin (Matthew Heywood) and his sister Bluebelle (Victoria Boyce), buskers who are affected by the Sheriff of Nottingham (Al Dunn) plotting to steal the crown along with Morgana. Merlin disguises himself as Friar Tuck and Little John, along with Marian (Samara Rawlins), soon become the band of Merry Men fighting against the evil embodied in Morgana and the Sheriff of Nottingham. There is also Nanny Fanny, the archetypal dame figure in the Pantomime played by Matt Freeman, who got the most laughs out of me at the show. His Bristolian accent was genius in elevating the humour of the role.
Enjoyed by adults and children alike, the set was a standout of this show: glitzy costumes and clever interactions between props and set. The show’s archery competition during which arrows were flying all over the set, was remarkable. I also enjoyed the musical element of this show: each actor and actress were truly multi-talented, with Jodie Micciché’s brilliant rendition of ‘Written in the Stars’ by Westlife and Samara Rawlins’ stunning musical theatre-style singing throughout the show.
When it all got a bit soppy during Robin and Marion’s song where they start to fall in love, the core team of Le Navet Bete (Nick Bunt, Al Dunn and Matthew Freeman) brought humour to the scene, playing dancing deer and performing silly stunts in the background. You have to prepare to be astounded by each scene: nothing was off limits, from singing squirrels to absurd audience interactions – a little girl in our audience got to bash a sleeping guard over the head!
I enjoyed the fact that the castmates seemed to be genuine friends; it was obvious to any audience member that the actors enjoy each other’s company, both on stage and off stage. I loved how the ensemble characters got their time to shine, too: Molly Cheesley and Yñaqui Tuason-Inocian showed themselves to be versatile and talented actors as well as singers, bringing comedy to the abundance of roles they played throughout the show, from squirrels to guards. Physical theatre and slapstick are trademarks of Le Navet Bete’s shows which, combined with a pantomime ambiance and great storytelling, were masterfully executed. Their rendition of A Christmas Carol last year was also a triumph. Robin Hood is playing at the Northcott Theatre from 15 December to 7 January – if you want a bit of festive fun that will make you laugh out loud, this is the perfect show for you!
John (not King John) says
A wonderful afternoon on New Years Eve spent watching a magnificent performance by the cast and crew. A tight-knit group that really entertained and a pretty impressive set of stage backdrops all swiftly and skilfully changed throughout the show. Fantastic and throughly recommended!! Thank you all
Deborah Priddle says
Great little panto with just the right mix of Saucy, Nasty and Nice ( oohh, hiss and hooray) My 6 year old grandson transfixed throughout. ( Only criticism is need more of the Dame)