Back To The Future meets Ocean’s Eleven meets Hustle meets Mission Impossible is how you could describe this year’s festive spectacular at Bristol Old Vic.
And spectacular really is the word that must be used because Robin Hood is absolutely awesome!
This version of the swash buckling adventure begins in the modern day as shy student JJ tries to demonstrate his love for Robin Hood at a school assembly but is booed off stage by fellow pupils.
Retreating to the safety of a library, the librarian reveals he has discovered some Robin Hood artifacts in the attic. As well as a 1991 poster of Kevin Costner in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (“wow, that’s ancient”, says JJ), there’s a mysterious hand written book telling a long lost tale from Sherwood Forest. After reading it, JJ is transported back to the 13th century where he gets to meet his heroes in real life!
But this is not the tale we all know. It seems we’ve been lied to all along because Robin Hood is a woman.
What follows is one of the best couples of hours we’ve ever experienced in the glorious Bristol Old Vic auditorium as JJ convinces a retired Robin to reunite her merry crew and bring down the evil Sheriff of Nottingham.
Robin Hood at Bristol Old Vic
The show is performed by The Wardrobe Ensemble, a company of theatre artists who met in September 2010 while training together at Bristol Old Vic. They are all fantastic.
Dorian Simpson is a fully grown man but he is so convincing as a teenager!
Jesse Meadows is hilarious as the booze swigging Friar Tuck and Tom England is superb as Will Scarlett.
Kerry Lovell is brilliant as Robin Hood and it was an inspired choice to make the lead hero female. Katja Quist is equally awesome as the boxer turned forest adventurer Marian.
It’s very hard to pick a favourite but James Newton is well up there with his fantastically evil and side-splittingly funny performance as the Sheriff of Nottingham.
The show is fast moving and never gets boring. We loved the nods to the Hollywood movies and (Everything I Do) I Do It for You from Kevin Costner’s Prince of Thieves gets two brilliant outings.
Anna Orton’s set design is outstanding with the action switching seamlessly between JJ in the library to Sherwood Forest and the dungeons in Nottingham Castle. Also seamless are the several members of the cast who play more than one character during the show.
Regular readers will know how much we loved Bristol Old Vic’s The Christmas Carol in 2018 which returned in 2019 because it was so popular. Well, guess what? We think Robin Hood: Legend of the Forgotten Forest is even better!
This year’s Christmas extravaganza is a fabulous retelling of a classic tale that appeals to all ages with several powerful messages for the 21st century. Don’t miss it!
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Robin Hood: Legend of the Forgotten Forest is at Bristol Old Vic until 8 January 2022.
Images credit: Craig Fuller