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Very merry time for all with a classic tale
Simply put – and by that I mean laughs, hollers and screams per minute – it’d be a crime to miss this year’s Playhouse panto.
And trust me, bearing in mind what’s gone before, that’s an extraordinary claim.
As everyone knows, Peter Duncan – he of Blue Peter fame – has both written and directed these festive crackers since 1873 (or thereabouts). And every year it seems he manages to top spectacularly what he did before. And I’ll be honest, I had my doubts he could pull it off again. After all, the Robin Hood tale is not the stuff of witches and ogres and fairies.
Quite the opposite in fact – it’s about real people and a way of life that atcually existed. It’s about poverty. And politics. And taxes… Yet despite this massive drawback (imagine Harry Potter without wands and Quidditch), Mr Duncan has crafted a panto in which the legend, the lesson and the laughs are all centre stage. And for that he deserves an Oscar - or whatever the Oxford equivalent is.
It’s loud, colourful, clever, smart, surprising and, as everyone who buys a ticket deserves, utterly, utterly enjoyable.
As always, the cast play their roles with all the energy and mischief of 10-year-olds on their last day of school.
Chris Barlow as Little John and Anna Wheatley as the plucky and spirited Will Scarlett are the glue who bond the show together (like Ant and Dec but with no jungle).
Sir Guy of Gisbourne (Kris Manuel) is deliciously smarmy and revolting, while the Sheriff of Nottingham (Andrew Pepper) is vile and moronic in equal measure.
As for the man himself, Robin Hood, Jos Vantyer is cool, brave, charming, and able to laugh openly at his fellow cast’s ad-libs (of which there are many). And let’s not forget Maid Marian (Leonie Spilsbury) who is perfectly ‘Maid Marianny’ or Dame Terese Tuck (Daniel Stockton) who is perfectly ‘Dame- delicious’.
A riot then from start to finish and for me at least, the most accomplished, most memorable and most perfect of Christmas treats, except on this occasion both the wrapping and gift within are equally captivating.
Robin Hood is on until January 12. Call 01865 305305 for tickets.
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