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Robin Hood: The Legend of Bushy Park

by on 10 August 2021

Dismantling Folklore in the Pheasantry

Robin Hood: The Legend of Bushy Park

by Josh Clarke

YAT, The Woodland Gardens, Teddington until 8th August. 

Review by Heather Moulson

Dressed up all in Green Yo, Ho! … well, in a mac actually, just in case, I went in search of the legendary Robin Hood in his Bushy Park hideaway.

Arriving at the verdant Pheasantry grounds, I didn’t know quite what to expect.  A natural grass stage before the audience, with an abundance of foliage to the right, making up the only stage entrance: I was intrigued and slightly worried by these elements … and by the looming precipitation.

A vibrant introduction from the narrator, Meaghan Baxter, built us up nicely for the treats to come.  The lynch mob of serfs following, with a noisy and impressive entrance.  Colourful, humorous, tongue-in-cheek, and reminiscent of Monty Python’s era.  They were energetic but not undisciplined.    Starved into oblivion by the Sheriff’s high taxes, the text was updated by references such as social distancing.

Maid Marion (Naomi Pink) and Friar Tuck (Esme Fraser) were introduced to us and we benefited from their solid rapport.  I also warmed to Ella Barnett as Little John.

Well thought-out with eclectic costume design, each scene was rich and varied, the characters unique against such a simple and natural set.

The charismatic Robin Hood, played by Jake O’Hare, was shown to be hapless and desperate for a good plan, dismantling the folklore of his bravery.  Meanwhile, the smartly dressed Tax Collectors (Joe Evans and Charlie Scowsill), not dissimilar to a sinister Laurel and Hardy, worked the positive energy between them as personal guards to Benjamin Buckley’s very watchable Sheriff of Teddington, the real villain of the piece, whose pace and timing were impeccable.  With the foppish King John (Edward Boore) making a dynamic entrance, the story flowed nicely.  The slightly convoluted plot didn’t make it any the less enjoyable. 

My favourite character, out of a wealth of stand-out characters, was Guy of Guildford, played slickly by Cameron Christie, a very glamorous trouble shooter indeed.  While Robin Hood fully embraced his title role, and although Robin lacked courage, he was quite believable as a heart throb. 

We were brought smoothly to the confrontational battle that was well-timed with a nice touch of farce.  The best line of the play, don’t shoot!  I’m an actor!  flowed effortlessly towards  the hilarious and pantomime-esque climax.  Guy gave us a good touch of realism as he revealed he was an out-of-work actor, working part time in Tesco.  This was actually too late, as he had already won the audience over. 

Directed by Josh Clarke and Alex Farley, Robin Hood: The Legend of Bushy Park was a very worthwhile 45 minutes of strong acting, direction and humour, the audience were drawn in all the way.  A really good Sunday afternoon.  Even the natural elements held back for such a skilled production … then poured down straight afterwards!  This shows how taking a chance can truly pay off.

Heather Moulson, August 2021

Photography by JoJo Leppink

From → Drama, YAT

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