Robin Hood review: Maid Marian still the show from the thigh-slapping outlaw

The Gaiety delivers top-notch performances and production standards in a show that’s not afraid to take risks

 

Gaiety Theatre, Dublin

****

“We’re men, we’re men in tights. We roam around the forest looking for fights.” The anthem from Mel Brook’s 1993 Robin Hood spoof serves as an anthem for this year’s Gaiety panto, which pits a ludicrous band of bandits against the dastardly Sheriff of Snottingham (Nicholas Grennell), who bears a distinct resemblance to a character from another medieval pastiche, Blackadder.

The intertexuality may go over the heads of younger audience members, but the way in which it allows writer/director Darryn Crosbie to enrich the traditional heroic narrative will not. Instead of a generic hero, David Crowley’s thigh-slapping Robin verges on the ridiculous. Instead of a simpering Princess, we get Kate Gilmore’s show-stealing Maid Marian, who wields a sword as well as any of the outlaws and helps to give the Sheriff his deserved comeuppance. 

Crosbie is not afraid to take risks with his choice of musical material either. Instead of the year’s top 10 dance tunes, he offers us a variety of classic genres – from musicals to 60s soul – while the traditional dance-off that precedes the curtain-call is replaced with a sequence of slapstick choreography that is one of the highlights of the evening.

“This is no ordinary panto,” the cast remind us several times during the performance, “it’s the Gaiety panto.” Once again, that motto stands for top-notch performances and production standards across the board.

Until January 22