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15th December 2014

Review: Robin Hood

The raunchy student production delighted with strong writing and hilarious moments, writes Hannah Toeman

As the programme stated, the Panto Society’s Robin Hood has abandoned much of its traditional telling. This diversion created a unique forum of creative freedom with crossdressing, ABBA, and a “Frozen” tribute. Set against a simple backdrop of a panoramic forest photo and a cardboard castle, the plot did not retell Robin’s stealing from the rich and giving to the poor. Rather it was a story of the blossoming romances of our two central couples: Robin and the feisty Maid Marion, and Prince John and Robin’s mother Dame Felicity Fellatio.

The strong writing left no room for weak peripheral characters and the updated telling enabled new characters to come to the fore. There must be commendations to the scene-stealing Ryan Jones and his exuberant and charismatic portrayal of Dame Felicity Fellatio: a woman seeking the perfect man—panto style, of course. Jones, just like the rest of the cast dealt with the inevitable hecklers professionally, without hesitation. Beth Farrell’s sharp ad-libbing and her comic delivery transformed a potentially dry character into a charming and witty narrator.

As expected with student panto, this production was raunchy and bold. Boundaries were pushed, but all was delivered in good jest. Lines were not frittered away by the cast and they enjoyed great interaction with the audience. This made for engaging and fast-paced comedy. It felt like comic relief from start to finish. More light-hearted moments were faultlessly delivered by the chorus: the totally kitsch Village People, choreographed by Zara Bryan and Fern Wigfield, enjoyed no fewer than four encores.

But the musical was not just slapstick and sparkle. Beneath the fake boobs, the foliage and mandatory panto donkey was a story about love, friendship and… alien planets. So perhaps it was not the most thought-provoking or intellectual piece of theatre. But the achievement of this society cannot be underestimated. Cast and creatives together produced a hilarious and engaging performance which was executed skilfully. Now how do I sign up for next year?

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