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Panto season is upon us again and the Queen’s Theatre in Hornchurch is packing its aisles with families eager to watch another feel good, seasonal romp full of thrills and spills – the spills this year, being mainly buckets of wallpaper paste! Robin Hood, as we know, is all about stealing from the rich to give to the poor, although Andrew Pollard’s witty script gives plenty of comic spin to this classic tale, with many mishaps and laughs along the way. The fun starts with our hero Robin and his merry-men, or maybe it is women, attempting to rescue Maid Marian from the clutches of the caddish Sheriff of Nottingham and his evil mother, the wicked witch Morgana. Also calling at the castle is naughty nurse Dame Nanny Fanny, who is desperately in search of love, and the delightful Eweniss, both these characters adding much humour and charm to a story that moves along at a frantic pace.
Be prepared to sing along to a broad selection of pop hits from Thin Lizzy, The Rembrandts and Barbra Steisand and Donna Summer, with the talented cast of actor/musicians who really bring this show alive. Robin, (Phil Adele), is just as adept with a guitar, as with a bow-and-arrow. Morgana (Georgina Field), bewitches not only with her spells but with a saxophone, thus displaying her remarkable musical prowess. Will Scarlet (Jessica Brydges) provides keyboard accompaniment, while Little-John (Ruth Brotherton) can be spotted playing a flute. Well they all had to create their own entertainment in those days didn’t they.
We must also mention the troupe of young performers who grace the stage in their bright colourful costumes, singing and dancing along with the main cast. Who gets the best lines? It would have to be Nanny Fanny (John Barr) who provides much brevity to the script with some of the gags being a little risque without being offensive, and the Sheriff (Lawrence Cole), who gets to pose and pout a bit like Rick from the TV comedy ‘The Young Ones’, for anyone old enough to remember. Both the Sheriff and Morgana lap up every boo or hiss from the audience. “Oh yes they do! Oh no they don’t!”
We get to gasp at the sword-play, and laugh out loud as Friar Tuck (Robert Took) biffs the baddies with his frying pan. Then there’s Nanny and the Sheriff doing a spot of decorating Laurel and Hardy style. Audience interaction is aplenty, but take an umbrella or wear something waterproof if you have tickets for the first five rows.
Ably directed by Douglas Rintoul, with fabulous design by Richard Foxton which includes a castle, a dungeon, a dragon, as well as outside in Sherwood Forest. The music is directed by Tom Self. This Queen’s Theatre adaptation of Robin Hood runs until 5th January 2020. Take a young-un or two to see it, or maybe even an old-un. It’s fun for all and you won’t be disappointed.
Ros Connors, Drivetime
Hear Ros’s visit to the Queen’s Theatre, chatting with Phil Adele (Robin Hood), Geraldine Field (Morgana), and Dame Nanny Fanny (John Barr), by clicking below.
Check out ticket prices and times by heading to the website queen-theatre.co.uk where you can also purchase tickets. Or ring the box office number 01708 443333.
The Queen’s itself has a marvellous atmosphere, and there’s a real community feel. Be sure to take time out for a coffee in the open cafe area, or perhaps visit the new Q-Bar. All the staff are helpful and friendly.
Photos (c) Copyright: Mark Sepple