So Bluegrass and Pink Ribbon are over, but now it’s the green men and women of Sherwood Forest taking from the rich to give to the poor.
Dorrigo Drama Club’s latest production at the Old Gazette Theatre, “Robin Hood and the Babes in the Wood” by Ben Crocker, opened on 31st October and will run until 11th November.
This is an old-fashioned pantomime, with the opening night crowd booing, cheering, flirting and throwing rocks at the baddies – having been brought into the fold as fully initiated outlaws.
Capably directed by Dina Luciani, the cast is a mix of adults and children, who had the benefit of workshops in Comedia dell’Arte with Giri Mazella. This training shows in the slapstick and comic turns that brought lots of laughs from the good-sized audience. One nicely nuanced performance is Alan-a-Dale, played by John Pitkin in a stunning minstrel’s outfit.
The comedy actors we’ve come to know well are also there – young Liam Clements as our hero, Robin Hood; Carolyn Nelson as the impeccable Maid Marion; Wayne Burley as the perfectly evil Sheriff of Nottingham and Ken Gardiner as “Poopyhead” Dennis, the tax collector who turns out to have a heart. Rob Capps makes a convincing Friar Tuck. Teh Roser-Clark pops up when the cry goes out: “Is there a lawyer in the house?”.
In a role shared with Kate Smith, newcomer Icia Molloy is a hoot as teacher, Winnie Widebottom – “Winnie by name, Widebottom by …”. Well, you can see for yourself. Winnie’s stripper routine has to be seen to be believed – and yes, it’s safe for the kiddies.
The children in the panto are also seasoned performers. Rebekah Eppler and Alissa Courtice share the role of the very angry Little Joan, out to avenge her father’s murder by the Sheriff. Marshall Kellett and Ella Nelson play Tommy and Tilly, the threatened Babes in the Wood. My personal favourite though is the twitchy-nosed Rabbits, Kye Nelson and Jed Capps. You have to wait till the end for their star turn, the Rabbit Ballet – truly a stunner!
The costumes were apt and often sumptuous with frequent changes, especially for Maid Marion. Shirley Moran excelled in this display. The Theatre’s new digital lighting, devised by Ray Bontoft, worked well with the shifting scenes.
In the words of the Sheriff: “This isn’t just posh panto, this is baddies’ panto”. All in all, a great effort by those involved both on stage and behind the scenes.
Bookings for Robin Hood and the Babes in the Wood are open at Dorrigo Wholefoods.
Written by Ben Crocker