A Dukes Lancaster production
5 July 2013 - 10 August 2013 extended to 17 August 2013 by popular demand
review by Alan Chard
Walkabout theatre in Lancaster was sorely missed last year when there was no play in the park because of cuts. Pressure from many directions has reversed that and so we can once again be delighted by outdoor theatre in a truly magical setting, Williamson Park, Lancaster.
The park itself is looking much better than it has for many years, the grass is cut, neatly edged and generally the place looks like someone cares for it, a long-overdue improvement.
If you are expecting a tale of daring exploits by a group of male outlaws robbing the rich and giving to the poor, joined occasionally by a beautiful, aristocratic Maid Marion then prepare yourself for something completely different.
This is a pick-and-mix presentation, opening with a clear reference to the weird sisters from Macbeth, interrupted by what I would describe as the 'Thought Police' in a land gripped by an Orwellian hand where education of the lower classes, music and dancing are banned. Personally I found this reference far to close to the 'political correctness' of 2013-UK for comfort. There was much shouting from the storm troopers, and when Robin did appear he was easily overpowered, photographed and 'tagged'.
At the end of this scene I and those around me were subdued and quiet as we moved to the next location.
The band of outlaws was led by Maid Marion, a hapless group who habitually rob anyone, rich or poor with no liking for Robin Hood with whom Marion engages in a bizarre wrestling match. The outlaws rob our hero and leave him helpless to his fate. The scene is lightened by a great deal of pantomime-style audience interaction and frivolity.
Action continues in the woods, in front of the Ashton memorial and "The Dell" before the finale at the Williamson memorial. The scene in the Dell overflows special effects, including more Macbeth, the magical experience we've come to expect from The Dukes.
The wicked Sheriff turns out to be a softly-spoken woman and the ending comes rather suddenly and is hardly satisfying for anyone who likes the bad guys to get their just dessert. Marion does eventually come to help our heroes, but only in the nick of time and as an audience we're not sure she would.
There are times of theatrical extravagance with music and dance, special effects galore and a good deal of amusement. A visual spectacle that clearly delighted all ages, definitely not a traditional fairy tale in the forest. Full of drama and conflict, stunning effects and lots to keep the younger members of the audience engaged.
Alan Chard, July 2013
Production photos of Robin Hood