Paul Reakes has taken this story by the scruff of the neck and thrashed it about joyously. He’s added a hellish demon, a witch (complete with a pointed hat that has its own mind), two dozy guards, lots of silly songs, sweets for the audience, and a strong suspicion of anyone from Middleton Cheney! The result is a bizarre and hilarious evening of surprises and revelations as the dastardly Sheriff of Nottingham (brilliantly played by Roger Riley – oh yes he did!) is gradually given his comeuppance by the beautiful Robin Hood (Tara Lacey-Rousou slapping her thigh deliciously), the outrageous Nurse Nitwit (Nik Lester throwing energy and double entendres all over the place), two enchanting Babes (Zac Lacey-Rousou and Lauren Bricknell are both superb), and dozens of helpful, sympathetic townsfolk.
There is a simple, imaginative, colourful set, lots of dazzling costumes, explosions, magic, ghosts, Elvis Presley look-alikes, swordfights, some French coiffeurs, and lots of woodland creatures, all discovered within a tight framework, kicked off by an excellent, dynamic prologue and carefully woven together by Liz Riley’s tight direction.
Sometimes actors walked into the unlit downstage areas, the scene changes were not as slick as they could have been, and the roller-coaster energy that began the evening slackened here and there, but I’m being picky. The friendly welcome of the whole company and their delight at spreading good cheer among the audience cannot be questioned or resisted. I had a glorious evening, and I thank them all.