Robin Hood review at the Old Market Theatre, Hove – ‘rousing and resourceful’
New Mutiny Theatre has been a company to watch since it reframed Romeo and Juliet for young audiences in 2013. Graduates of Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, the company retells classic stories with original songs, added silliness, and a DIY aesthetic that implies theatre could bubble up anywhere, from your bedroom to the play park, at any minute.
The company’s second full-length show is a rousing and resourceful retelling of Robin Hood, with Mumford and Sons-style folk ballads and a strong message about friendship, self-determination and the fallibility of heroes.
Writer Toby Webster has recovered some lost narrative gold from the myth: Maid Marian trounces Robin, and Friar Tuck joins the band by way of a 24-hour battle – featuring bouts of tickling, thumb wars and Scissors, Paper, Stone.
Designer Alex Berry’s motto seems to be: buy from the charity shops and borrow from the wood store. The set is a multi-platform knock-up of propped doors and leaning ladders. Callum McIntyre’s foppish Robin wears pink low-tops and a khaki utility jacket, and looks like he’s run away from private school. At times the show favours thrift and invention over impact and clarity.
But you can understand the allure that this Robin holds for Maid Marian, who has been told by her uncle, the authoritarian Sheriff, to do her duty by staying safe.
The highlight of the show is a part-rapped number in which each Merry Man (and Woman) gives their backstory. In the end, Robin Hood is the spirit of freedom you find inside yourself.