This is Stantonbury Theatre’s first ever professional pantomime. It is the story of Robin Hood, well actually the epic adventures of Robin Hood. The wicked Sheriff of Nottingham has seized power over the tiny hamlet of Stanton-On-The-Berry. He takes over the village and Marion’s house, is going to roast the prize pig, and has fallen in love with maid Marian who wants nothing to do with him. In a desperate bid to save her village and avoid marriage, Marian and her faithful nurse, Nurse Large head to Sherwood Forrest to seek the help of Robin Hood and his merry men.
Maid Marion is a strong heroine for modern times, a real role model for girl power. She is the best at everything in the village and is friendly and feisty to boot. Marion is played by Genevieve Say and is very amicable in the role. Her impression on the younger members of the audience will go a long way to bring equality to the sexes of the next generation with her excellent performance. Everyone’s favourite nanny is Nanny Lar-GE. No, its not pronounced large. Its Lar-Ge. (Think Keeping Up Appearances). Nanny is played by Guy Hargreaves and he is excellent as the pantos drag queen, especially fetching in his negligee. Guy makes nanny a really funny character and can get the whole audience on side. He can also talk very fast and could win a competition to talk for England. This is a benefit when speaking to the Sheriff. Little John is a woman called Tina. Its actually her surname that is John and she was called little as she was the youngest. Little John is played by Susannah Austin and she can sing and dance as well as have perfect comic timing. Friar Tuck is played by Tom Whitelock and his voice is amazing. How he is not top of the charts I do not know. Someone give that man a record deal -wow! Great performance. Our hero is Robin Hood, who when we first meet him is a bit depressed. Robin is played by Sam Freeman and he is fantastic as the hero that you want to help win against the evil Sheriff. A real everyday hero.
And so to the Sheriff. The Sheriff is played by Kerry Frampton who also co-wrote the show. Kerry is an absolute star. The best baddie ever. She absolutely internalises the role, even shouting at audience members in character when they take photos or film. (And don’t get me started on how disrespectful it is for an audience member to think its okay to take photos. Audience – just don’t do it!). Kerry handles it all like a pro. Her improv is excellent and she is so much fun that you cannot help but laugh. Her sidekick, little Sheriff deserves a mention as she was also brilliant, Latisha Wade with her group B performers on this occasion. She told a story with her face and body with no words, a real skill in the acting world. Supported by an outstanding cast, this is a fantastic panto. Oh yes it is.
What makes this a unique panto is the imagination of the cast. It doesn’t have a huge production budget so asks the audience to imagine. For example, imagine two rich ladies in a carriage. The actors mime a square and say ‘window, powder, fans’ and then laugh poshly to help us imagine the scene. The sheriff also asks for audience help in making noises whilst climbing the stairs. You can imagine what the audience came out with! All of this makes the show special and makes the audience genuinely feel they are involved. We also help Robin Hood with his aim by most of the audience making the Whoosh sound and a few at the back making the Ting sound. Its perfect interaction that makes it a panto. We knew when it was time for the interval as Robin said we are going to save the village…in about 15 mins. Another brilliant way of providing that information. Another moment of audience participation is the three challenges. Be warned an audience member will be required on stage to represent the Sheriff during the challenge. The royal seal is actually a seal with a crown on (well a girl acting as a seal with a crown on) and there are lots of social media jokes about tweets with the birds and dark web with the spider. The jokes keep coming and there is something for everyone. This show is not your average Panto. Oh no…its much better than that. And its well worth your time.
The Epic Adventures of Robin Hood is on until 31 December 2017. http://www.stantonburytheatre.co.uk/