The myth of Robin Hood has been told and re-told through the centuries, and in the oral tradition, each storyteller has put their own spin on the tale. Carl Grose’s Robin Hood: The Legend Re-Told invites us back to the original myth; a large and somehwat arrogant claim considering how wrapped up this story is in myth and magic to the point where it’s hard to know exactly what’s the truth. Directed by Milly Still, the constant shift in focus is tiring so that watching this play is more work than enjoyment.
A stylistic nightmare of complexity
After Woodnut’s (Dumile Sibanda) father is arrested by Baldwyn’s (Alex Mugnaioni) inability to pay the king’s newly raised taxes, the Green Hood gatecrashes the execution, creating a myth and rebellion to the king’s rule.
In Grose’s script there are elements of a quasi-Shakespearean nature, except for the fact that this show has a confused identity and purpose, and alludes to a more high brow appreciation than it deserves. The moments of humour and odd quips set an uneven tone and confuse this show more, turning characters that are meant to be threatening into caricatures, and this is on top of tribalistic chanting in Jenny Moore’s music that evokes a spiritualism found in the oral tradition of storytelling, which begs the question; what is this show trying to do? What even is it? Is it a comedy, or a statement on the politics of bad advisors or an attempt to create a legend through mysticism or even an anti-monarchist statement? It’s just not clear what it’s supposed to be.
Jenny Moore’s music, whilst adding to the tribalistic, almost mystic folklore aspect of Robin Hood, is unnecessary and complicates the overall story. In many places, it doesn’t add anything and in fact confuses the show. The overuse of the songs makes the climax of the show less impactful with its discordant melodies and tribal beats. The only aspect of this show that has a clear aesthetic is Chaiara Stephenson’s set design. The austere metal trees that double as cages and additional levels separates the characters and action with a few different interpretations; whether it’s class or location.
Robin Hood: the Legend Rewritten is exhausting. This show is a stylistic nightmare of complexity in its attempt to create a unique commentary on the corruption of power, a message that should have more meaning and impact in today’s climate. Unfortunately, in its attempt to be ‘different’ from any other show with the same message, everything about it is just overwhelming and frustrating to watch.