Robin Hood

This slick performance of Robin Hood by Manhattan Children’s Theatre (Edinburgh) will leave you laughing, humming the songs, and with a strange desire to shout ‘Hail King Richard.’

I would recommend this piece to any fans of the legends

This is a very traditional Robin Hood production, which has a lot of respect for the tales that have come before. We follow Robin of Loxley, who has returned home from fighting to find his people suffering from the overbearing taxes of The Sheriff of Nottingham. He becomes the outlaw Robin Hood to do what he can to steal from the rich and give to the poor. Maid Marian has been doing what she can to stand up to The Sheriff and protect the people. The Sheriff is outraged by Robin Hood and his Merry Men’s antics, so he hatches a scheme to try and get Robin to reveal himself.

There were some spectacularly over-the-top moments, such as Robin Hood in drag dressing up as an old woman in a cloak, only to rip off the cloak to reveal another cloak underneath. These were nicely counterbalanced by more heartwarming moments, such as the homely and welcoming reveal of Sherwood Forest in the clear morning rain. However, sometimes it was not clear whether the chop and changing of tone, from the dark serious atmosphere of the opening to the reveal of Robin in drag, were quite intentional. It was initially tough to tell whether this was going to be a straight faced Robin Hood, or a more self aware play. It does slowly become clear but it sets you off on the wrong foot a bit.

The cast worked well together and were a strong ensemble. David Mahoney’s performance as both Little John and The Sheriff deserves a particular mention. His scheming villain unable to stop Robin or get the girl was great to watch and he was clearly enjoying the creeping villainy.

It is the music that really carries the show though. From the atmospheric opening all the way to the jazzy villain duet the music really helped the show flow. I was humming one the tunes for the rest of the day. They should also be commended for the silly but inventive onstage bow and arrows, created entirely through imagination, a bit of choreography and excellent comic timing.

There are plenty of jokes for kids but also the adults, with a few quiet innuendos slipped in here and there alongside quiet comments about Dewberry the Sheriff’s sidekick fan art of Robin. Robin’s messages of compassion for your enemies and the need to build the world you want to see are clear for the older children, and the singing and stagecraft will hold the attention of the little ones.

I would recommend this piece to any fans of the legends, or those looking for a strong musical aimed at children.

Reviews by M Johnson

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The Blurb

A comedic and compassionate musical revisiting a tale of love, civil disobedience and a quest for home. A destitute kingdom, ravaged by greed, is left to the mercy of an unscrupulous sheriff. From nearby Sherwood Forest, one man and his band of vowed compatriots choose to make a stand for good. He captures the imagination of the downtrodden peasants, the beautiful niece of the missing King, and dedicates his life to the freedom of Nottingham. Packed with Monty Pythonesque humor and inspired buffoonery, audiences of all ages will determine Robin's legend: is he a hero or a hood?