Katherine Manners (Simpkins), Dumile Sibanda (Woodnut) and Marta Miranda (Musician, Guard, Villager). Photo Pamela Raith.

ROBIN HOOD The Legend. Re-Written at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre

Regent’s Park glorious Open Air Theatre presents a bloody and fitfully amusing retelling of the Robin Hood legend that is absolutely not suitable for children of any age.

Dumile Sibanda (Woodnut) and Ira Mandela Siobhan (Gisburne). Photoby Pamela Raith.
Dumile Sibanda (Woodnut) and Ira Mandela Siobhan (Gisburne). Photoby Pamela Raith.

Other than the gore, Carl Grose’s “thrilling new take” develops for the most part on familiar lines – the Sheriff of Nottingham and the nobles of England are self-serving predators brutally exploit the local population until an unlikely champion sets about trying to restore a sense of balance. Everything unrolls in a largely predictable way until the hilarious interval-exit-line and, as with Grose’s earlier work Grand Guignol, Robin Hood the Legend. Re-Written only becomes interesting in the second half with a devastating plot twist and observations on the complex question of inherited wealth and privilege.

The first thing that strikes you about this new production is Chiara Richardson’s superb duplex set. Sherwood Forest, the world of the underclass, is all forbidding trees and shadows while in the upper world, the trunks of these trees become the cold columns of Nottingham Castle, home to the evil Sheriff Baldwyn. On top in every sense are the nobles who by one means or another have acquired considerable wealth and property. Pointedly, these “haves” are played, mostly, by male and/or white actors including a menacing Alex Mugnaloni as the sheriff and Paul Hunter who has a lot of fun with the role of the king, especially in the second half. The chief “baddie” is played by Ira Mandela Siobahn who chews the scenery to shreds as “Sir Gisburne” and the chief “goodie”, more or less, is the mischievous Marian, played by a fabulous Ellen Richardson. On the lower level and not so much downtrodden as stamped on, the “have-nots” are mostly played by black and/or female actors in a group centred on Woodnut, an outstanding Dumile Sibanda, and her widowed father Bob Much (the Miller), played with real warmth and sensitivity by Dave Fishley. Linking the worlds and our guide to the story is a balladeer, beautifully performed by Nandi Bhebhe, and a word too for the three actors who play … but that would be telling.

However, the visceral violence means this production is wholly unsuitable for the core audience for the theatre’s summer shows and, despite some excellent illusions by John Bulleid, Richardson’s set and Jenny Moore’s music and lyrics – not to mention the tireless cast – Robin Hood the Legend falls far short of the bulls-eye.


Review by Louis Mazzini 

Think you know the story of Robin Hood? Think again.

Prepare for a thrilling new take on the classic tale, set in a desperate, divided kingdom where only the truly cunning can outwit the sheriff’s terrifying wrath. Promising humour, heart and a forest full of secrets, expect the arrows to fly in a bold new direction as trickery and truth collide with fiery results.

Told with epic storytelling, stirring songs, and absolutely no green tights (well, maybe just a flash), in the ancient, wooded heart of Regent’s Park, Robin Hood is a riotous folk tale for our times.

Charlotte Beaumont – Little Joan
Nandi Bhebhe – Balladeer/Jenny
Amena Alicia El-kindy – Musician
Dave Fishley – Bob Much
Stephanie Marion Fayerman – Betty
Samuel Gosrani – Will Scatlocke
TJ Holmes – Brasswilt/Robin Hood
Paul Hunter – King
Katherine Manners – Simpkins
Shaun Yusuf McKee – Brokebrick/Robin Hood/Guard/Villager
Taya Ming – Musician
Marta Miranda – Musician
Alex Mugnaioni – Baldwyn
Simon Oskarsson – Boneweather/Robin Hood/Guard/Villager
Ellen Robertson – Marian
Dumile Lindiwe Sibanda – Woodnut
Ira Mandela Siobhan – Gisburne
Elexi Walker – Mary Tuck

Mike Ashcroft – Movement Director
John Bulleid – Illusion Designer
Joley Cragg – Musical Director
Mauricio Elorriaga – Associate Set Designer
Poppy Franziska – Associate Director
Carl Grose – Writer
James Hassett – Associate Sound Designer
Polly Jerrold – Casting Director
Emma Laxton – Sound Designer
Ingrid Mackinnon – Season Associate: Intimacy Support
Jenny Moore – Composer, Musical Supervisor & Additional Lyrics
Jeannette Nelson – Voice & Text Director
Deirdre O’Halloran – Dramaturg
Zoe Spurr – Lighting Designer
Chiara Stephenson – Set Designer
Melly Still – Director
Olivia Walters – Associate Set Designer
Samuel Wyer – Costume Designer

The Legend. Re-written.
17 June 2023 – 22 July 2023

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