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Robin Hood: The Arrow of Destiny review at Theatre Royal, York – ‘panto fun for the summer’

Joanna Holden, Neil Reynolds and Siobhan Athwal in Robin Hood: The Arrow of Destiny at York Theatre Royal. Photo: Anthony Robling Joanna Holden, Neil Reynolds and Siobhan Athwal in Robin Hood: The Arrow of Destiny at York Theatre Royal. Photo: Anthony Robling
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York Theatre Royal’s big summer show may have his name in the title, but Robin Hood is hardly the star of this production – indeed, he doesn’t show up until 40 minutes into proceedings. Instead, Richard Hurford’s retelling of the legend casts Maid Marian as the lead character, who travels to find Robin of Loxley to seek his help in freeing her village from the tyranny of the Sheriff of Nottingham, only to find a surprisingly childlike figure who’s never even fired a bow and arrow before…

There’s more than a few pantomime elements at play in The Arrow of Destiny – some corny jokes, lots of singing and dancing and plenty of opportunities to boo and hiss at the villain. Siobhan Athwal’s Marian even becomes a principal boy at one point as she disguises herself as Will Scarlet – Athwal is certainly the star here, whether it be belting out songs or bantering with Robin or an avuncular Friar Tuck. Neil Reynolds also makes an endearing stage debut as Robin, while John Elkington is a suitably sardonic, villainous Sheriff.

It’s enjoyable, if undemanding, entertainment, with set pieces such as an archery event (complete with American sports commentator in the box) and Anna Kesteven’s puppetry skills sticking in the memory. It may lack a bit of the stardust needed to raise it to a truly great production, but the diverse cast and refreshingly feminist take on the Robin Hood legend make this one for all the family to enjoy.

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Richard Hurford's enjoyably feminist take on Robin Hood lacks a bit of magic sparkle, but it's entertaining panto fun for the summer