Review "Robin Hood, The Panto": A Hoot and A Holler!

Piccolo Theatre presents


At 600 Main Street, Evanston
Written by Jessica Puller
Based on the legendary folk hero, Robin Hood
Music and lyrics by Tyler Beattie
Directed by Glenn Proud and Brianna Sloane
Fridays and Saturdays at 7pm
Saturdays and Sundays at 3pm
Thru December 18th

Buy Tickets
Running Time:  Two hours and thirty minutes includes delayed start and fifteen minute intermission

Reviewed by Katy Walsh

Throughout literature history, Robin Hood is the only criminal to get the girl, the public’s adoration and multiple movie deals.  Stealing from the rich and giving to the poor is an acceptable lifestyle choice.      Once again, the ill-gotten booty is piled high.  But this time, the celebrated man in tights is wearing   fishnet stockings.  Piccolo Theatre presents ROBIN HOOD, THE PANTO.  ‘Panto,’ short for pantomime, is a theatrical style of performance.  The historical mode uses specific elements to slap the punchline.  The main guy is a gal.  The secondary dame is a dude.  The hero gets hurrah-ed.  The villain gets boo-ed.  ROBIN HOOD, THE PANTO is an interactive buffoonery.  It’s a hoot and a holler … as endorsed by the audience’s continued responses.

Co-directors Glenn Proud and Brianne Sloane orchestrate the melodramatic burlesque with the talented merry cast.  Berner Taylor (Robin Hood) channels spoof-tacular arrogance as a man above the law.  Taylor’s attitude is Li-Lo meets Charlie Sheen while visiting Mel Gibson.  Andrew Roberts (Bess) is the love starved drag dame.  Roberts is hilarious sharing ugly-girl-trying-to-score sidebars with the audience.  Ben Muller (Sir Guy) is delicious as the over-the-top smarmy villain.  Breaking from his eloquent speech, Muller brilliantly improvs a mean-spirited welcome to a late audience member.  Muller is fun to hate!  Nicole Keating (Scarlett), looking like a forest nymph, is delightfully driven to hang with the cool kids aka merry men.  Maxx Miller (Alan) and Adam McAleavey (Little John) are slapstick sidekicks striking up rock poses or dance offs.  Vic May (Sherriff) is hysterical in good to bad twists of heart and wig adjustments.  Kaitlin Chin (Maid Marian) IS an irreverent woman as the perfect straight guy in the farcical set-ups.  In multiple roles, Amy Gorelow and Vanessa Hughes are the wheels on the get-away car of this caper comedy.  Gorelow and Hughes are a dynamic duo as hags, witches or Lucy & Ethel.  The entire cast burns rubber to make the escapades more fun.   Costume designer Joshua Allard ensures they look good doing it.  Allard uses an unusual blending of old-worldly and contemporary recyclables for an animated visual appeal.  

Playwright Jessica Puller uses word puns, political satire, and a magic book to retell a classic with humor.  Proud and Sloane add in lengthy pie-in-the-face bits and puppet pageantry.  It’s funny but superfluous. This ROBIN HOOD, THE PANTO doesn’t shoot straight to the bulls-eye.  Instead, it frolics along to stop for sticky buns, chat with swamp witches and pet a cow named Philip.  It has family-friendly content with mild sexual innuendo similar to a Disney cartoon.  The length is the real inhibitor for merry kids.  ROBIN HOOD needs tighter tights! By dropping the intermission and shaving down a few scenes, it will hit the target audience with an arrow-splitting win. 

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