L to R - Julie McIsaac as Will Scarlet, Sean Oliver as Alan of Dale, Alan Zinyk as Friar Tuck, Genevieve Fleming as Maid Marian, and Ryan Beil as Guy of Gisborne. Photo by Tim Matheson


The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood based on the classic legend and adapted by Jeff Pitcher

Director Stephen Drover Finale Choreographer Courtenay Dobbie Set Design Al Frisk Costume Design Barbara Clayden Lighting Design Jeff Harrison Sound Design and Composer Noah Drew Stage ManagerMarcella Helmer

Carousel Theatre for Young People

Dates and Venue 27 November 2009 - 2 January 2010 @ 2:00 & 7:00pm The Waterfront Theatre, Granville Island

Reviewer Jane Penistan

This is an updated version of the legendary goings on in Sherwood Forest in the reign of England's infamous Prince John. Like many of his countrymen, Robin Hood and his friends live as outlaws in their own land and have faith that the rightful king of England will return from imprisonment in Europe to regain his kingdom. Prince John's adherents try to enforce the usurping Prince's unpopular taxes and harsh government.

Robin's chief claim to fame is his prowess as an archer. He is also reputed to be the outlaw who steals from the rich to give alms to the poor who have become impoverished by Prince John's harsh and unlawful taxation. Robin and his gang live in the forest, subsisting by shooting the king's deer and raiding the estates of the wealthy. The sheriff of Nottingham and his friend Sir Guy of Gisborne, his chief forester, are determined to do away with Robin Hood and his merry men.

Al Frisk has designed a beautiful set backed by an immense tree whose branches spread across the upstage backdrop. On either side are three-level buildings, stage left is a walled ramp, leading up to the entrance to Nottingham castle, with a stage level entry to the dungeons underneath. Stage right is an unadorned high balcony, under it a convenient exit and entry. Lighting by Jeff Harrison provides day and night, storm and sunshine as required.

Robin Hood (Lawrence Haegert), a yeoman of the forest, is a cocky young man, headstrong and reckless, but a leader and schemer, and of considerable courage, intelligence and incredibly skilled as an archer. His friends and companions in the forest are Alan of Dale (Sean Oliver), Joshua Reynolds as Little John, a wise and gentle giant, Friar Tuck (Allan Zinyk) an ever hungry and always friendly itinerant friar and Will Scarlett who surprises us when, bare headed, Julie McIsaac lets down her hair, after being one of the lads, and a tough one.

Maid Marian is another surprise.  This lady is a baroness and a very attractive, forthright and self-possessed young woman (Genevieve Fleming). There is also a seer, Justine (Laura Jaye) affianced to Friar Tuck, who scares the scurrilous, overbearing Sheriff of Nottingham (Josue Laboucane). His sidekick is the witless Guy of Gisborne, delightfully, blunderingly awkward, and played with much clever timing and artfulness by Ryan Beil. And of course, there is the dignified, noble, wandering knight, (Ian Butcher) another surprise, King Richard, the true king of England. The adventures of this company are many and very exciting and funny, culminating in a breathtaking shooting contest.

The production moves at a rattling pace and the company plays together.The staging in the use of the tree and the castle entries and exits is well timed and cleanly executed. Characterization is emphasized, as it should be in a fast moving production for young audiences.

The storytelling sticks to the legend of Robin Hood, with its theme of friendship, faithfulness and loyalty, but is never bereft of humour, fun, excitement and enjoyment, as the villains are thwarted and the good, after their cheerfully borne misfortunes and hairbreadth escapes are rewarded. This is a delightful and entertaining production for a family Christmas treat. Go and enjoy it, as I did.

© 2009 Jane Penistan