Robin Hood (Sheringham – panto)

Killian Donnelly writes panto scripts with a flourish as well as a twist to them. Take “Robin Hood’ at Sheringham’s Little Theatre.

Maeve Smyth & Russel Hicken
Maeve Smyth & Russel Hicken
© (C) Chris Taylor Photo

What image of Robin Hood swings into your mind? One derived from films or television series old and recent? One from books, whether fiction of factual? Which period of history? For that matter, where in England does the action of the story take place?

Not you might think that any of this has any connexion with a pantomime. Yet Killian Donnelly's Robin Hood manages to involve us in credible as well as daftly enjoyable plot and deft character variations.

Robin himself (Richard Holt) in Nick Earnshaw's production is in many ways a non-heroic hero who tries to avoid derring-do if an application of common sense can achieve the same result. He's even at the receiving end of one of Nurse Polly Tix ((Russel Hicken)'s custard pies! When have you seen that in a panto?

Marian (Maeve Smyth) is no whimpering damsel in a wimple, but a feisty young woman with principals as well as desires. Then there's Rafe Young's Sheriff and his sidekick with pretensions Snapchap (Rik Warren), both over-charged with ambition as well as testosterone.

The Babes are mere pawns in the power struggles. It all adds up to a show with something for all audience ages from the catchy tunes and lyrics (musical director Ron Sayer) and dance numbers (choreographer Bryony Moore) to some clever use of the small stage (designer Matt Nunn).

All the players manage to involve the audience in the mad happenings as the plots and schemes unfold. They whizz up and down the raked seating, pop up from unlikely places and tease even someone suffering at this point in the season from pantomime overload to chuckle and applaud.

Robin Hood runs at the Little Theatre, Sheringham until 3 January.