'Robin Hood: The Truth Behind the Green Tights' - Anonymous Review
A fun twist on a popular tale, David Neilson’s play follows Albert, a ‘weak-kneed, yellow- bellied, chicken-livered little coward’ (his wife’s words, not mine), to whom Robin Hood is little more than an annoying celebrity. However, when an incident with his taxes draws Albert into Robin’s world, his attempts to keep out of trouble force him to tread the line between helping the Merry Men, and helping the Sheriff of Nottingham. The resulting exploits are a great source of hilarity, resulting in what is overall an entertaining story of (reluctant) courage.
Some standout acting performances glowed in this production. Rhys Kenyon pulled Albert off well, capturing attention strongly enough that even a simple well-timed glance could generate laughs. Xander Gillespie and Ellen Trevaskiss also delivered excellent performances, bringing comic overtones from their many supporting roles. Xander’s captivating background acting, and the characterisation Ellen brought to every role, lifted scenes to new heights. A mention must also go to Jack Hughes for the character work that went into Guy of Gisborne - his lusting after Marian (and any other woman in the vicinity) especially, was absolutely hysterical and wonderfully delivered.
Equally high praise must go to some aspects of the tech team. The use of platforms was a stroke of genius, cleverly employed to give two levels to scenes. This brought authenticity to the over-seeing tree narrator, and true hilarity when it allowed the parallel performance of dramatic rescue and the gaoler’s suspicious interjections. Rowan Read’s lighting design was subtle and effective, and the storm sequence particularly was an excellently-executed triumph. Use of sound however was somewhat lacklustre, though its initial use for the delivery of the angel chorus on Robin Hood’s name added an effective extra layer of comedy. Final credits go to the costume team, who dealt well with the many multi-role parts.
Comedic chemistry was frequently strong, particularly in scenes between Jack Hughes’ Gisborne and Cedric Vermeire’s dastardly Sheriff, and a side-splitting highlight of this was surely the ‘charades’ scene, featuring another great delivery by Xander Gillespie. However, the reliance on melodrama for humour (which was often very effective), occasionally became heavy-handed, particularly across longer scenes where the energy was more difficult to sustain. Perhaps a longer fuse on character reactions, allowing a slower build-up of tension, could have led to fewer comic moments of higher, more effective, impact. Some different comedic aspects could also have featured - the role of Robin Hood in particular was prime for an over-confident, perhaps slightly air-headed hero, and had potential for more comedy than was allowed. Balancing the more serious moments between Robin and Marian within the light-hearted tale was clearly a challenge, and led to both of these roles feeling somewhat outside the rest of the production.
Overall, though the comedy occasionally edged on the side of uncontrollable, this was a good production which brought well-needed humour to a cold October night. Look no further for somewhere to laugh away that mid-semester stress.