Thursday, 17 December 2015


If the Stratford East version of Robin Hood is anything to go by, modern day panto is no longer for, nor all about the children. Unnecessarily oversaturated with suggestive references such as, "enter my back passage" and "you're such a tease" {the latter directly aimed at a young audience member, no less}, with suggestive body language {sometimes using relatable instruments} to further encourage the said terms, I sat and watched 2 hours of adults in bright yet fairly plain and simple costumes, against the backdrop of an okay set design, spouting more lewd one liners than actually telling any sort of story much less that of the classic it claimed for its title.

With incest also a feature {a would-be King wanting to marry his niece}, sexuality, intimate descriptives and the alike continued to be the distasteful themes, if you will, that ran throughout the slightly odd farce, with one female cast member being directed to {very obviously} measure the inside leg of a fellow {male} actor, giving the audience a 'knowing' look following a glance at his groin area. Like the rest of these moments in the pantomime, there was no need for it! None at all - unless perhaps performing to a sex obsessed ADULTS ONLY audience!

The character of Robin Hood was played by Oliver Wellington who delivered quite a forgettable yet forceful performance. In an outfit more fitting for an actor cast in a supporting role, Oliver appeared to not know if he was cast as himself, or the Robin Hood... Likewise, Nadia Albina who played Marion was cute, adorable and sang her heart out however, she was so over the top with everything... I literally wanted to step on stage, hug her and whisper, "darling, it's okay, take a breath and chill". Performing alongside such balanced; seasoned actors, who each delivered a fab performance, such as Derek Elroy and Ashley Joseph, Oliver and Nadia stood out, albeit with great energy, for all of the wrong reasons.

While many of you might say, "backside, Char, it's a flipping panto, relax!", it is a production primarily for children and so I do not understand why it was of such a blatant sexual nature and in some areas so slack - people seen moving about in the wings, an obvious and randomly planted man in a green jumpsuit pressed hard against a green {set design} tree, {supposedly camouflaged} only to suddenly pop an arm out with a squirrel on his hand which didn't seem to be of any relevance to the scene in which this was happening, plus he looked so awkward. Although that particular randomness had nothing on the changing of set once out of the black lighting state - the most mind boggling thing {to me}. Good grief!! I just think, overall, it was a little too slapdash because, even though, to a degree, panto is usually camp, laid back and lots of fun - the mystery of it all should still be upheld; it should feel as though you have been transported into another world. The 'puppet strings', so to speak, should not be seen and you should feel entirely comfortable watching.

The youth of today, INCLUDING those under the age of 13, are so clued up and if not they will most likely ask questions, in which case YOU, the so-called grown up, will have to explain. How do you tell a child what was meant by the man in a woman's dress who bent over and referenced his back passage, more than once, to the other man who was creeping up behind him? How do you explain the significance; the reason for it and why it might be funny to some adults? How do you explain why it seems to be that the King can marry his niece? Answers need not be sent in...

What was good?
Our seats - stalls C13-15
Collectively, a strong cast
Clapping and singing along
All of the {upbeat} music and songs
The non sex related comedy moments

What was amazing?
Ashley Campbell is a beautifully skilled talent who I thoroughly enjoy watching. He is mesmerising as an actor with a ridiculously awesome vocal range and ability, his dance skills are so on point and his presence on stage as King Richard {and other roles in the panto} calls for all eyes to be on him. The sensational legend that is Michael Bertenshaw, no matter how vulgar he was at times, is such a formidable talent! The man is unquestionably one of the most brilliant performers I've seen and, bar the obvious within this particular production, I cannot fault him in his role as Prince John.

However, the one who completely stole the show, for me, was a remarkable talent I had not witnessed before - Geraint Rhys Edwards. This young man is a dream to watch. In the role of Tuck and others he demonstrated the world of versatility. A strong vocalist, smooth dancer, trumpet player and with such detailed facial expressions, mannerisms etc he was a force to be reckoned with in each of his scenes. Geraint is flawless and therefore captivating. From start to finish, he remained consistent, maintained his energy, was sharp and engaging. I honestly hope to see this man across my TV screen, in films and then some in the not too distant future. He is an absolute gem of a talent.

Minus the sexual innuendos and being able to see the stage hands, some of the set changes etc which, quite frankly, spoils the 'magic' of it all, this was a funny, charming and enjoyable panto at Theatre Royal; Stratford East!

Robin Hood | 020 8534 0310
Matinee and evening performances until 23rd January 2016

Photo credits: Robert Day, TRSE
Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed this post! x
CHECK OUT my previous post: The Festive Monster
Please share via social media 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thoughts on this post?