Review: Robin Hood And The Babes In The Wood, New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich, until Saturday January 28 2012

In a terrific burst of stage energy the rock ‘n’ roll panto began as it meant to go on. No one seemed to draw breath after the first guitar chords were struck and we got off to a rip roaring package of pure entertainment, just ten actor-musicians giving us non-stop song, dance, comedic acting and a ream of truly corny jokes.

In so far as the story matters, King Richard leaves the country to the mercy of Prince John and the Sheriff of Nottingham (Anthony Hunt) cancels all public celebrations so that his ward, Maid Marion (Shirley Darroch) is thwarted in her coming of age and marrying Robin Hood (Alex Tomkins).

Meanwhile, the Sheriff is expecting the arrival of his orphaned nieces who bring with them a large cache of gold. Nanny Nellie Nightnurse (Will Kenning in suitably outlandish costume) is to care for the infants but everyone has their work cut out as two feisty young women Britney (Sioned Saunders) and Whitney (Sophie Byrne) burst onto the stage, click their fingers and declare they are, indeed, ‘The Babes’. Mayhem ensues in Sherwood Forest and Will Scarlett (Adam Flynn) and Much the Miller’s Son (Jared Ashe) don’t stand a chance!

Chaos inevitably follows, punctuated with foot tapping rock ‘n’ roll music. In such mayhem the high musical standard might have been missed, but it was there in abundance.

It is difficult to single out individual performances, but if pressed, Tim Jackson’s ‘Numbskull’ was a delight. As the lovelorn, spurned suitor to Marion he knew how to get an ‘aah’ from the audience and he and Portcullis (Steve Simmonds) made perfect henchmen for the devilish Sheriff.

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There were no weak links in Peter Rowe’s production and all credit to Dawn Allsopp for the set and costume design. If you weren’t ‘feeling it’ at the end, you weren’t there!

Carol Twinch

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