REVIEW: ‘Robin Hood and the Babes in the Wood’ – The Wight Strollers

The problem with going to see a Wight Strollers’ pantomime is remembering how good it was last year and wondering if this year’s can possibly be as good. Well, I can assure you it is. The Strollers have triumphed again!

Combining two fairy tales/legends gives us a storyline about Robin Hood and his Merry Men trying to prevent the evil Sheriff of Nottingham killing the innocent babes in….. Sherwood Forest.

The babes in question – played by Madeline Walker and Miley Hole – perform beautifully, whether showing their vulnerability when lost in the wood, or feistily standing up to their villainous guardian. As always though, the plot is far less important than the jokes and songs, both of which feature in abundance.

Emily Scotcher as Robin Hood

Emily Scotcher in particular is in fine voice in the title role, and her duets with Ruby Barnett as Maid Marian are a highlight, as is the moment when Marian discovers her beloved’s forest hideout. ‘Robin’s camp!’ She exclaims. ‘No I’m not,’ retorts Robin, ‘I always stand like this.’

The (equally camp, it has to be said) Merry Men – Rob Jones, Ben Spurling, Tim Smith, Casey Delaboud and Rob Steel-Bingham – come into their own in a very silly – and hilarious – scene in the Sheriff’s dungeons, and give a sterling rendition of ‘Men In Tights’. Each has his own individual characterisation but they work together as a very funny team.

The Merry Men (Ben Spurling, Rob Jones, Casey Delaboud, Tim Smith and Rob Steel-Bingham)

Another very funny team are Patrick Barry and Alice Lindsay as the intellectually-challenged henchman/woman tasked with carrying out the evil deed. Both are talented natural comedians and they spark off each other well. I particularly enjoyed the scene in which they are sent back to school as part of the dastardly plot – and come up against teacher-cum-nanny-cum-maneater Nanny Nina, hilariously portrayed by John Woodford in perfect pantomime dame tradition. His performance was enjoyed by all – possibly apart from his ‘love interest’ in the audience!!

Sarah Scotcher, as well as co-authoring the script with daughter Emily, and directing, manages to find time to play an uproarious ‘Mighty Oak’, talking directly to the audience and reducing them to tears of laughter.

She would have stolen the show had it not been for Marc Phillips who makes the absolute most of the best role in the show, the baddie Sheriff. He clearly relished the boos and hisses greeting him every time he appeared, and dominated the stage.

Marc Phillips as the Sheriff of Nottingham

Add in some remarkably talented dancers and an accomplished chorus, choreographed perfectly by Cheryl and Izzi Rudd, the latter of whom demonstrates her own skill as the Forest Fairy, and the beautiful harmonies brought to life by Musical Director Kim Ball, and you have the perfect pantomime.

The mark of a really good show is that days later you are still laughing at the jokes and singing the songs – and over a day after seeing the show, I still am…. and eagerly awaiting next year’s offering.

A very few seats are still available for next weekend – do yourself a favour and grab them quickly – they are sure to sell out!

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