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Robin Hood. Milton Keynes Theatre.

Robin Hood is this year’s panto at Milton Keynes Theatre and what a swashbuckling adventure it is. Shane Richie brings his charismatic charm and brilliance to the lead role and has the ladies swooning in their seats as he poses for photos. But that’s not all. Expect impressive acrobatics, amazing magic and scary monsters! This panto has everything.

Robin Hood is the adventure of Robin, his love for Maid Marion and along with his band of merry men, Robin is determined to take on the evil sheriff of Nottingham who wants to overthrow the King. Shane Richie plays Robin and is perfect in the role of the charming scoundrel. Hmm, not a million miles away from Alfie in EastEnders methinks. Robin is supported by his merry men Friar Tuck, Little John and Will Scarlet. Friar Tuck is played by Peter Piper and he is simply hysterical to watch. I found Peter’s performance funny and yet true to the character. There were jokes abound but his interactions with Robin are some of the best scenes in the show. Will Scarlet is the good looking one of the merry men and he knows it. Will is played by Michael Quinn and Michael gives a very confident performance of someone who loves himself. At times he could even outshine Robin as the sexy hero type. Little John is played by Jamie Kenna and he is not only tall but at times a bit slow and Jamie does a great job in the role, making Little John affable and kind at heart. Maid Marion is played by Zoe George and she is the perfect female companion for Robin. Zoe is pretty and has lovely dresses but I do feel a bit sorry for Zoe that Maid Marion’s character has been gender stereotyped as a helpless maiden, rather than making her sassier and wiser, especially with two alpha males on stage in the form of Robin and Will. It would make a great dynamic. The baddie for Robin is the evil Sheriff of Nottingham who is played by Pete Gallagher. He is excellent in the role and gives a great performance of being cunning in his plans to capture Robin. He enjoys you booing him so be ready and be loud! Merlin is played by Phil Hitchcock and wow this guy can do magic. The floating ball of fire was extremely impressive. The doves were also really impressive. I love a bit of magic and if you play Merlin, I suppose it’s expected. The production is high and the dances are slick. The whole cast are great and the finished show is slick and professional.

There is nothing as brilliant as unrehearsed kids on stage being asked to do things they don’t want to do. Shane wanted the kids to do YMCA but the four-year-old girl refused to be a Y. Another of the kids said he didn’t have a girlfriend but someone in the audience shouted out yes, they do. This is the true brilliance of panto. It’s a shame the audience didn’t seem to realise that during the twelve days of Christmas when they throw the toilet rolls into the audience it’s for the audience to throw around to other members of the audience – not wait for Shane to come to them and just hand them back. The best parts of live theatre are if something goes wrong. This can make the audience roar with laughter. There is a brilliant and already extremely funny scene where Robin and three of his merry men are practicing to be minstrels. They have saucepans on their privates and a spoon to ‘ding’ the pan to the right piece of music. However, during this scene Robin loses his pan and dings his thingy instead. What was so funny was I could see him mouthing to Friar Tuck that it hurts. He then accidentally pulls off Friars tucks hair. The audience loved this improv moment in the show. I also enjoyed the idea of Robin giving a present to Maid Marion of an apple. A cox apple. Robin tells Friar Tuck and they have a whole conversation about Robin’s cox. It was perfect panto humour, especially when he loses the apple down his trousers.

During the second half there is a short 3D film. But its not just a subtle 3D film. It’s a proper in your face 3D and even I was in awe of it. It was scary in places so if you are taking small children or don’t like insects and especially spiders, you have been warned. Very impressive and that’s not only the impressive thing in this show. When the Sheriff of Nottingham mentions Rex most of us are thinking of a dog. But Rex is bigger than that. In fact, it’s the biggest monster to ever walked the planet. Yes, it’s a T-Rex and it completely fills the stage. Its hugely impressive and scary in equal measure. A wonderful surprise as I never expected to find a T-Rex in Robin Hood.

This is the greatest show (yes that song is in the show) and if you want to see a panto that has absolutely everything in it this is it. And for all you EastEnders fans; Shane told us that Alfie dies on Christmas Day so if you want to see the real thing – come to Milton Keynes! Robin Hood is in Milton Keynes Theatre until 13 January 2019.

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