Robin Hood 

"Theatr Clwyd Panto is definitely a fan favourite and audience members will return year upon year"

If you are looking to lose yourself in the magic of Panto to get into the Christmas spirit, then look no further than Theatr Clwyd’s production of ‘Robin Hood - The Rock and Roll Panto’.

Being an annual attendee of the Theatr Clwyd Panto, I was super excited to be given the opportunity to review this show. It is a guaranteed evening of good old-fashioned and light-hearted fun, perfect for the whole family. 

Written by Christian Patterson, the story follows Robin Hood and his merry band, the outlaws of the forest of Flintshire. With the evil Sheriff putting strict rules in place and banning music, Maid Marion joins the defiant group to take down the Sheriff. Although the story has no real depth, it is still enjoyable and has been written well. The story is full of local jokes and makes light digs at politicians and the current living crisis which is good fun for people wanting to escape the harsh reality for a couple of hours.

One of my favourite things about Theatr Clwyd Pantomime is that there are many familiar faces that return annually to provide us with our Panto fix.  The Dame is played by the fantastic Phylip Harries, a veteran of Theatr Clwyd Panto. Harries has the audience in the palm of his hands from the outset, which is evident by the applause and cheers he receives just upon entering the stage for the first time. His comedic timing is impeccable and although the jokes are corny and we can see where they are going, it’s really difficult to not find yourself laughing along. 

Another Panto veteran is none other than Daniel Lloyd. As well as being a cast member, Lloyd is also associate director of the show. This year, Lloyd plays the part of Little John, who is the Dame’s love interest. As Harries and Lloyd have worked together on Panto for many years, it’s clear that they have such a good rapport on stage. One key highlight from this show is the lip sync battle they have whilst helping Robin Hood to confess his feelings for Maid Marion. This goes down so well with the audience and deservedly receives a huge round of applause. 

Another familiar face is Ben Locke who plays the villain. From the outset, he has the audience participation nailed. Although he plays the bad guy, his character is flamboyant and extravagant which makes you warm to his character. 

Alice McKenna and Lynwen Haf Roberts return to Panto land this year and provides the audience with high energy and fantastic vocals throughout.

We have also been treated to some incredible new casting this year - Connor Going (Robin Hood), Celia Cruwys-Finnigan (Maid Marion), Chioma Uma (Jolly Goodfellow) Joe Butcher (Clod) and Caitlin Lavagna (Snot). It’s so welcoming to see fresh new talent on the stage and they bring fresh energy and enthusiasm which contributes to the overall fun and excitement of the panto.

One of the highlights of Theatr Clwyd Panto is that the cast mates also become band mates as they perform their own musical numbers. It is worth noting that each cast member can play more than one instrument and it is evident that every single person on that stage is a talented musician - as well as being able to deliver outstanding vocals. It is truly incredible to watch and was perfectly demonstrated by Locke as he performs rock classic “I believe in a thing called love” with Cruwys-Finnigan. He goes from performing a high energy choreography to a fantastic guitar solo.

Musical direction comes from Akintayo Akinbode, who has selected a good choice of rock and soul songs, which will be most familiar to older audience members. However, the songs have been jazzed up slightly so that even the younger audience members who may not be familiar with the songs, find themselves clapping or bopping along. The only criticism I can give towards the music is that the finale song (Lizzo - Good as Hell), which cast members encourage the audience to get up and dance seems to fall flat and doesn’t seem to flow with the rest of the songs chosen. 

There is good use of lighting throughout which adds the sparkle and magic to the stage. The costumes are beautifully done - in particular the extravagant costumes donned by the Dame. The staging is so cleverly designed and excites the audience - with cast members entering the stage by swinging on by rope. It’s also nice to see that there is a second level to the staging which cast members will use to play instruments. It is set up well as a Forest and provides lots of eye-catching moments.

Theatr Clwyd Panto is definitely a fan favourite and audience members will return year upon year. It provides a feel-good escape full of laughter, smiles and audience participation.

This show was reviewed on the 24th November 2022.  Robin Hood runs at Theatr Clwyd until the 14th January 2023.  Tickets are available here: Robin Hood | Theatr Clwyd

Review written by Vicky Humphreys

Photo credit: Kirsten McTernan

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