Robin Hood: The Legend. Re-written. ★★ Regent's Park Open Air Theatre | Jun 17 - Jul 22, 2023

It is difficult to determine the target audience for this Robin Hood. It is probably too grisly for children and too incoherent for adults. Indeed, the point of the whole exercise is far from clear. There are references to various interpretations of the Robin Hood story: the old television series, the Disney version and the more recent Kevin Costner film. In fact, characters from these versions appear from time to time, but the reason for their presence remains unclear. In this particular account it turns out that Maid Marian (Ellen Robertson) is also Robin Hood. Although she drinks too much, Marian is apparently an excellent shot with a long bow. This nod to female empowerment is complemented by an equally unfocussed concern about the environment. It may be that everyone who loves the forest and respects the land is an aspect of Robin Hood. Who knows? But, both thematically and in terms of its plot, this show is a bit of a muddle. The narrative has references to incidents in the standard Robin Hood canon, but here it also involves a drug-addled king (Paul Hunter) controlled by Marian's evil husband, Baldwyn (Alex Mugnaioni) and his barons. There is also a sadistic super-villain (Ira Mandela Siobhan) who appears briefly in the first act and then retires until Act II when he emerges with magic and hypnotic powers. Toss in Little Joan, formerly Little John, and Will Scatlocke, formerly Will Scarlet, plus lots of new characters whose significance is less than clear, and there's a lot to try to follow here. On the other hand, perhaps it's best not to seek out any thematic development or to attempt to fathom the convoluted plot. If you do decide to spend an evening in the park at Robin Hood: The Legend. Re-written., maybe it's best to just sit back and enjoy the odd humorous line or amusing moment. Indeed, the audience applauded the decapitation in Act II. For us, however, this production misses the bull's-eye by a considerable distance.

Rated: ★★

Reviewed by J.C.
Photo by Pamela Raith

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