Robin Hood (Cambridge)

When the king’s away… but the Sheriff of Nottingham finds himself up against Robin Hood at the Arts Theatre in Cambridge this Christmas.

Lorna Want & Ross Hunter
Lorna Want & Ross Hunter

Michael Fentiman and Matt Crosby (who has written himself a peach of a part as Nurse Nelly) are the authors of this year's pantomime for the Arts Theatre, Cambridge. Keeping a somewhat flabbergasted eye on the dynastic ambitions of the Sheriff of Nottingham (Stephen Beckett in full-out villainous mode) is good fairy Beyonce Willoweb (Sophie Isaacs).

In this version of the legend, Jack and Jill are King Richard's children and Maid Marion (Lorna Want) is their cousin. She may look demure, the perfect court lady, but can down a man with a karate kick and punch when required. Ross Hunter is Robin Hood, making him into someone who has lessons to learn as well as wrongs to redress.

Nurse Nelly literally parachutes into the action while Jonny Weldon as her son Will Scarlet immediately gets the audience on his side. Egging the Sheriff on is his sorceress mother Terroressa, an unearthly puppet manipulated by Tamsin January and voiced by Fentiman. Sue Simmering's costumes look very well.

I did however wonder why, when everyone else looks suitably early medieval, Ian Redford as Tuck and Richard Earl as Little John (aka John Little) wear late Tudor garb. The action goes with slick scene changes and a slop-scene as the first act climax. Fight director Terry King incorporates some good action sequences and Kevan Allen's choreography has verve and considerable panache.

"Robin Hood" runs at the Arts Theatre, Cambridge until 12 January.