Andy Howells takes a trip to Sherwood Forest (aka Evenlode Primary School, Penarth) for Red Herring Theatre’s open air presentation of Sherwood! The Adventures of Robin Hood, ahead of the shows run at Carew Castle.
For Sunday evening only, the grounds of Penarth’s Evenlode Primary School had become Sherwood Forest. Emerging from a row of huts, a group of incompetent Guard’s, Prince John and The Sheriff of Nottingham were about to execute Robin of Loxley, while a group of medieval villagers and the audience looked on!
Narrator and reluctant member of Robin’s merry men, Friar Tuck, interrupts the action and (literally) winds the audience back to the beginning of the story and Sherwood! The Adventures of Robin Hood is underway!
Red Herring Theatre’s summer open air presentation spills over with swashbuckling action, thrills, brilliant jokes, and fast-paced fun from start to finish.
Its fair to say that director Alex Wilson has an eye for a good comedy, particularly comedy that appeals to a broad range of ages! Sherwood could easily have been performed by comedy stalwarts Monty Python or Morecambe and Wise as its full of slapstick fun that the whole family can enjoy with a few subtle jokes for the grown-ups. In this instance, Red Herring Theatre have pulled together their own hilarious troop of merrymakers for Sherwood!, which the Penarth audience loved!
Paul Robinson’s Friar Tuck is clear, concise and pompous as he pulls the narrative together. Meanwhile, Ryan Salter, gets to have a lot of fun as John Little (or is it, Kevin?). Look out for Salter’s side-splitting rescue attempt from a high tower of Becky McVicar’s Deorwyn Millar in Act Two, which has hilarious shades of Laurel & Hardy!
Emma Dennett and Amanda Matthews are led by Sally Mathias as the Sheriff of Nottingham’s incompetent guards. As well as robbing the poor, this comedy guard of honour also steal a lot of laughs from the audience along the way as does Chris Glynn’s slimy Prince John and Jay Excell as the brilliantly brutish Sheriff of Nottingham. Kudos must also go to Graeme Johnson who takes on a variety of roles from Much the Miller to King Richard and really looked like he was enjoying the ensuing mayhem!
Standing up for the underdog as Robin is Tom Dyer who succeeds in bringing out the characters comedy while creating an understanding of our reluctant hero along the way. This Robin really wants to be carefree at the beginning of his adventures, but develops with degrees of maturity along the way, especially through his friendships with Becky McVicar’s Deorwyn and Gabbie Crick’s Maid Marian.
The two female leads are arguably the strongest characters of the piece and are performed to perfection by Miss Crick and Miss McVicar, who brilliantly underplay their love rivalry and create two female role models which are as strong as the lead character. I particularly enjoyed the ladies’ duet on Gabbie Crick’s original composition, Brighter Day.
While the evening breeze picked up, the ensemble cast’s passion and pace took centre stage, particularly as the arrow shooting contest designed to capture Robin Hood got underway. There was plenty of audience interaction through the fourth wall and one couldn’t help but feel drawn into the narrative as sword fights broke out – this is Robin Hood for the open air at its very best!
A sure-fire hit, tourists and holidaymakers attending performances of Sherwood! The Adventures of Robin Hood at Carew Castle between Monday July 31 and Friday August 4 should book tickets quickly for this hilarious holiday highlight!
Suitable for ages 5+