BWW Reviews: THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD Delights All Ages at The Kennedy Center
Theater for young audiences can be a rather challenging feat. How do you take a story, or a lesson, and turn it into something that not only adequately teaches it, but also holds the attention of the children and amuses the adults? And, what story do you choose?
If you're pondering the answer to this question, let THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD, currently on stage as part of The Kennedy Center's WORLD STAGES: International Theater Festival 2014 be a shining example of everything that you should do. This show, a co-commission between Visible Fictions and The Kennedy Center, was a blissful way to spend an hour on a Friday night.
The story is the classic legend of Robin Hood, a young rogue who falls into fame through his good actions, and bands together an army to battle the corrupt Sheriff of Nottingham. Robin is headstrong, impulsive, and somewhat vain, but he also serves as a wonderful, if slightly accidental, hero.
The setup, designed by Suzie Inglis and director Douglas Irvine, is simple, perhaps in order to make sure that the attention of young audience members stays where it should: on the story. The two actors splitting the roles, Billy Mack and Martin McCormick, move a large construction of cardboard boxes and snack packs around the stage, setting it up to serve as a tree, castle, gate, or whatever needed. Instead of bows and arrows, the actors use precise timing and flashlights to illustrate marksmanship. They use the stage well, even venturing out into the audience on occasion, much to the delight of viewers.
Both Mack and McCormick are very adept at creating different, distinguishable characters, all humourous and multi-faceted. Mack takes on Little John, the Sheriff, Friar Tuck, and Marion, while McCormick portrays Robin Hood, his disguises, and the Sheriff's beloved wolf. They are laugh out loud funny, and even manage to make each other laugh with improvisations, accents, and food flying out of their mouths. More serious moments are portrayed with excellence as well, showing the depth of each actor's talent.
THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD is recommended for ages 8 and up, and there are good reasons for that. Battle scenes would scare smaller children, and slightly older viewers will be much more able to understand the themes. The show teaches how to work together, share, and understand what you can and should do with the talents and friends you are fortunate to receive. That being said, the best lesson of this show seems to be what you can do with imagination, some cardboard boxes, and clever movement.
Yes, this production is a show for young audiences. But, as someone who is assuredly outside the target demographic, I highly recommend it for children of all ages. Go to laugh, to be surprised, and to remember how much you love laughter and the story of Robin Hood.
THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD has a runtime of 60 minutes. It is playing in the Kennedy Center Family Theater through April 6. For tickets, go to the show's page.
Photo Credit: Neil Thomas