Robin Hood The Legend. Re-written

Carl Grose
Regent's Park Open Air Theatre
Regent's Park Open Air Theatre

Listing details and ticket info...

Alex Mugnaioni as Baldwyn and Paul Hunter as the King Credit: Pamela Raith
Katherine Manners as Simpkins, Dumile Sibanda as Woodnut and Marta Miranda as Guard Credit: Pamela Raith
r Mandela Siobhan as Gisburne and Dumile Sibanda as Woodnut Credit: Pamela Raith
Charlotte Beaumont as Little Joan Credit: Pamela Raith
Shaun Yusuf McKee as Brokebrick, Simon OScarsson as Boneweather and TJ Holmes as Brasswilt Credit: Pamela Raith
Samuel Gosrani as Will Scatlock Credit: Pamela Raith
Elexi Walker as Mary Tuck Credit: Pamela Raith

Forget Errol Flynn, Kevin Costner, Disney and panto, this is Robin Hood as you never imagined him. There is plenty you will recognise in Carl Grose’s reimagining of the legend but very little is how you thought it was.

There are at least four Robin Hood claimants, all fictitious, though fiction proves stronger than fact in this case, This is archery, a forest, outlaws, a Sheriff called Baldwyn who is a baddie and a Marion. Marion isn’t a maiden, she is married to the Sheriff, but her part in this story is central. It is the women who provide the driving force here, whether protecting the wild wood or demanding the rights of the people.

As the royal tax collectors go from door to door, the villages stir rebellion asking “Who owns England?” risking brutal arrest and even execution when they can’t or won’t pay.

The scene is set by balladeer Nandi Bhebhe, who has a fine voice though the words aren’t always comprehensible, but since they repeat “Another day” you aren’t missing much. Carl Grose’s text isn’t as rich as his imagination.

Elderly villager Betty (Stephanie Marion Fayerman), bold defender of nature opposing their lordships who want to drive a road through the forest, miller Bob Much (Dave Fishley) who attacks the tax man and even his young daughter Woodnut (Dumile Sibanda) seem destined for the gallows, which had already robbed them of her mother.

An unknown archer (and five star sleight-of-hand bowmanship) saves them and they flee to the forest, where former king’s jester Little Joan (a spirited Charlotte Beaumont) and her friend Mary Tuck (Elexi Walker) are already sheltering.

All is set for a confrontation between the ordinary people and the lordlings. Alex Mugnaioni’s sinisterly smooth Sheriff Baldwyn has Paul Hunter’s kindly King’s tea regularly spiked to make him compliant, and so far he’s got the support of the landowning lords, represented by a trio (Shaun Yusuf McKee, Simon Oscarsson and T J Holmes), whose slow-motion entrances and mimed horsemanship mix the menace with comedy. Chiara Stephenson’s set with its tangled wire trees put the rich and the woeful on an upper level, the villagers beneath them with Zoe Spurr’s lighting helping to mix the metal trees with the real ones as night falls.

Only Betty’s daughter Simpkins (Katherine Manners), in service with Balwyn, moves between both worlds. Or that is what the powerful think as they bring in the invincible killer Gisburne (Ira Mandela Siobhan), whose good looks are at odds with his quivering sadism. But what about Ellen Robertson’s confident, enlightened Marion? Perhaps it is significant that there are no production photographs of her. One way of avoiding a spoiler?

Melly Still’s fast-paced production doesn’t entirely make sense of this bizarre re-imagining with its nods to egalitarianism and ecological responsibility. The interval leaves the plot stuck in an awkward hiatus. It is solved in a stroke that fits in with the feeling that is all being made up as it goes along and theatricality wins over logic when delivered so energetically on a warm night in the open air.

Reviewer: Howard Loxton

*Some links, including Amazon,,, ATG Tickets, LOVEtheatre, BTG Tickets, Ticketmaster, LW Theatres and QuayTickets, are affiliate links for which BTG may earn a small fee at no extra cost to the purchaser.

Are you sure?