Hood – The Legend Continues review at Theatre Royal, Nottingham – ‘a clever concept, but elusive’
It was always going to be risky inviting seven playwrights – all with strong regional connections and all regarded for their social and political commentary – to produce a portion of a single play. This new version of the Robin Hood legend was commissioned from New Perspectives to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Nottingham Theatre Royal, with each writer given a portion of the city’s colourful history in which appropriately to place Robin, the Sheriff of Nottingham, Marian, Alan A Dale, Little John and Scarlett.
There were to be no green tights and all that medieval stuff, except in the self-mocking and legend-mocking figure of Alan A Dale (Ed Thorpe), the glue that binds it all together. So we have Robin (Jonah Russell) as outlaw, agitator, lover, activist, hero and piece of the heritage industry – insubordinate corporal to the Sheriff figure (Adam Morris) of army captain, for instance; protestor against the developer ripping out Nottingham’s medieval streets. Rarely swashbuckling and often quite a laconic figure, in every guise he’s a thorn in the side of authority.
It’s often witty and it’s nicely stuffed with local references. These are very clever scenarios. But it just doesn’t hang together or wholly engage, and most of all, it seems lost and rather lukewarm on the Theatre Royal’s big stage, despite some inventive pieces of set. Ironically, it would do much better in the more intimate, upfront settings where New Perspectives, the region’s leading touring company, has such impact. Hopefully that’s something for the future.