If it’s jollification and family entertainment you want then head to the Queen’s Theatre in Hornchurch for Robin Hood the Pantomime.
From the moment the curtain rises the action starts and all the classic ingredients are combined in this show; men dressed as women, women dressed as men, villains and heroes.
We meet Robin Hood (Phil Adele) and his Merry Men, well we say Merry Men but… well we can leave that until later! – on their way to get the gold back from the dastardly Sheriff, to give to the poor.
So setting the scene and enlisting the audiences help Robin is a favourite. Exit Robin enter Maid Marian (Barbara Hockaday) who is desperately seeking her sister Joan who was last heard of working in the Castle for the dastardly Sheriff (Lawrence Cole) and his wicked mother Morgana (Georgina Field). Of course Marian is not alone – accompanied by her trusty old nanny, Nanny Fanny and her tame sheep Eweniss.
By chance Robin and Marian meet and realise that it is many, many years since they have seen each other and love starts to blossom.
In the meantime the dastardly Sheriff, who needs his mummy to help him with every decision, needs to find a way of enticing Maid Marian into marrying him and getting rid of Robin as well. The wicked Morgana needs to get Marian to the Castle, as after she and the Sheriff had confiscated Marian’s fathers’ property they were looking for the famous Locket of Ingatestone which held the final ingredient for the Elixir of Everlasting Life, but Marian has it around her neck.
A plot is hatched by Morgana, Robin and Marian attend the castle but are foiled and Robin is cast into the dungeon where the dragon lives.
Marian has escaped and comes to Robin’s rescue, and during the course of the show, Little John is revealed as Joan, Marian’s sister and Will Scarlet is revealed as Swing as she thought the group were men only!
This pantomime will appeal to all ages, Nanny Fanny, the dame is fantastically played by John Barr with plenty of banter and innuendo, and of course picking on a member of the audience!
She gets her man in the end, Friar Tuck and of course Robin marries Maid Marian in a wonderfully happy ending. Even the Sheriff and Morgan reform for the better.
There is a huge audience participation, superb singing and musicianship in this performance, great to see the young cast dovetailing with the professionals so smoothly.
This panto was written by Andrew Pollard, who has been writing panto’s for over twenty years, and skilfully directed by the Queen’s own Artistic Director Douglas Rintoul.
It really is a must see show, a great modern take on pantomime without losing tradition.