Robin Hood hits the target at Milton Keynes Theatre
All the most-loved pantomime ingredients are there - the slapstick comedy, the “Oh no you won’ts”, the songs that make you want to dance in the aisles, and the innuendo-filled jokes that get the mums and dads giggling helplessly.
But where this Robin Hood production scores a real bullseye is the technology. How DID they get that life-size Tyrannosaurus Rex to look so thrillingly real? And as for the 3D interlude, well suffice to say I put my arm round my eight-year-old companion just in case the ‘monsters’ scared him - only to find myself clutching him for my own comfort as owls, bats and balls of fire seemingly whizzed towards my head.
The boy, of course, watched in ultra-impressed, non-terrified awe and told me it was the coolest thing he’d ever seen.Even his 13-year-old brother (hard to impress at that age) declared the whole panto “awesome” and wanted to see it again. Praise indeed.
Shane Ritchie, once you got your head round the fact that he wasn’t Alfie in EastEnders, was superb, managing to be funny, endearing and be a macho hero all at the same time. His partnership with Peter Piper as Friar Tuck was side-splittingly funny and their fat suit dance is not something you will ever easily forget.Phil Hitchcock’s Merlin proved that a magician and illusionist can be a talented and funny actor too.
You know a magician is good when the kids are still asking “How did he DO that?” hours after the curtain has gone down.
Robin Hood’s Merry Men were all they should be - merry and extremely entertaining. The fact that half of them were professional acrobats from The Acromaniacs could only be a bonus. The comedy from Little John (Jamie Kenna) and Will Scarlett (Michael Quinn) had the theatre in stitches at times.
Smaller, more local, and very cute heroes of the panto were the children of MK-based Dancebox Studios, who formed an energetic and talented part of the ensemble throughout the performance.
Pete Gallagher was a boo-ingly impressive villain as the Sheriff of Nottingham, and Zoe George as Maid Marion had us all clutching our seats when her life was in danger.But of course Robin Hood, complete with his golden arrow, saves the day in time for a perfect, rip roaring panto ending in the form of a wedding to Maid Marion.
We trooped out with our own little merry men, bedazzled, thrilled and entertained. The eight-year-old had just one complaint. “He didn’t KISS her when they got married,” he said,Robin Hood runs until Sunday January 13. Tickets can be book via atg.tickets.com/Milton Keynes