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Panto Review: Robin Hood and the Babes in the Wood at Nottingham Playhouse

4 December 18 words: Tanya Raybould

We got down to Nottingham Playhouse to catch this year’s panto: Robin Hood and the Babes in The Wood

Image courtesy of Nottingham Playhouse

My head is still in the vibrant technicolour land of panto after attending this year’s riotus, fun offering at Nottingham Playhouse.

You can always rely on the Playhouse to produce a fantastic, traditional family pantomime, and this year's Robin Hood and the Babes in the Wood is no exception. It's almost like writer and director, Kenneth Alan Taylor has a “How to write the perfect pantomime” text book and puts a big, fat tick after every entry. And that ws just within the first ten minutes.

Disney have done Robin Hood, but it's not the best-known fairytale. Being a local girl, however, I know we should make more of our folklore and outlaw connections. We all know the story of Robin Hood and his band of Merry Men that steal from the rich to give to the poor, but I've never seen a panto version, so I was excited to see where they would go with it.

Before I knew it, I was booing the evil Sheriff of Nottingham and shouting the lines back to the actors on stage. I put ticks next to: hero, villain, love story, comedy, cute and cuddly animals, ghosts, energetic dance routines, audience participation, and even on-trend songs like Baby Shark, and a Queen medley. Then, of course, there was the best Dame in the business, John Elkington, whose ad libs are always spot on. Returning this year as Nurse Nelly Noggins, John moves the panto along, stealing every scene, whether it be singing an endearing number with the “Babes” or firing water pistols at the audience.

The cast gel, and it feels like one big office party, with many of them Playhouse regulars. While the jokes are topical, the production relies on panto traditions and talent rather than special effects and big names to get bums on seats.

The story is set in Medieval England. The Sheriff’s brother is away fighting in the Crusades and is missing, assumed dead. The greedy Sheriff plans to claim his inheritance, whatever it takes. Only Robin Hood and his Merry Men can stop him.

Assisting our Robin (Tim Frater) is Tilly the Tomboy, the superb Rebecca Little, Milly (Kelly Edwards), Alan-a-Dale (Kinden Singh Uppal), Tina Tuck (Clarice Julianda), Will Scarlet (Adam Pettigrew), and of course his love interest, Maid Marian (Kelly Agredo).

The script is brilliantly funny as well as entertaining for little ones and filled with a little innuendo for the adults. Robin Kingsland is a cruel, cunning and comical Sheriff of Nottingham: the perfect double act with John Elkington's Dame.

Miss this production? Oh no you don't!

Robin Hood and the Babes in the Wood runs at Nottingham Playhouse until Friday 11 January 2019

Nottingham Playhouse website

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