Presented by Windmill Theatre Company
Reviewed Tues 3rd August 2010
Venue: Space Theatre, Adelaide Festival Centre
Season: to Sat 14th Aug various days and times, see the BASS web site for details
Duration: 90min no interval
Tickets: All ages $29/Fringe Benefits $18/ groups 6+ $24
Bookings: BASS 131 241 or http://www.bass.net.au
This reworking and modernisation of the Robin Hood myth is heavily blended with elements of the Star Wars saga, the anonymous knights’ faces hidden beneath Storm Trooper helmets, their voices electronically modified, and death dealt out both with and without weapons. Seen only near the end of the work, Marty, the Sheriff could easily be equated to The Emperor, and his ultimate assassin, Guy, to Darth Vader.
Robin has been away for some years and has suddenly reappeared at a time when the Sheriff’s knights are out of control, looting, raping and killing. Much arrives home, with a touch of ‘product placement’, bringing a particular type of ice cream for Much junior, who is then kidnapped and killed by the knights. Much junior’s ghostly spirit remains, looking on and trying to guide those left behind. Robin, reunited with his ex-lover, Marion Maid, breaking up her more recent relationship with Wil, and with the added brute strength of a flatulence prone Little John, retaliates. Shocked at Robin’s excessive and increasing use of violence, Much distances herself from him. Mr. Maid, Marion’s gun toting father is, at first, unimpressed with Robin’s return but grows to appreciate Robin’s vicious retribution on the knights.
Violence, however, begets only violence, and waging war is a poor way to win peace. Fighting violence with violence simply escalates conflict, with terrible losses for everybody. Internal conflicts between Robin and his not so very merry men over his increasing levels of violence, and the effects of the love triangle on the relationships between members of the group, all take their toll, dividing them. This ultimately leaves them open to attack by the Sheriff.
The piece begins with plenty of pace, noise, music, flashes of bright light from Robin’s magic backpack, other lighting effects, choreographed movement and much more. The story moves rapidly and the cast undergo a long series of quick costume changes as they portray an endless stream of characters. Director, Rosemary Myers, has created a high energy and absorbing production and the enthusiastic cast throw themselves wholeheartedly into their roles.
Towards the end, however, it seemed to run out of steam a little, as the Sheriff went into an extended song while the others quietly counted their losses and consoled one another. Resorting to the Greek model of the deux ex machina, a device criticised by everybody since Aristotle, their world collapsed, King Richard appeared, the Sheriff and Guy died, for no clearly apparent reason save, perhaps, that the King could possibly have the powers of a Jedi to kill at a distance with no physical contact, and it was all over, ending more with a whimper than a bang and leaving a lot of unresolved issues.
Eamon Farren takes on the role of Robin giving us a typical bold adventurer at the outset, then capably traverses the decline into violence and loss of control to the inevitable sad end. He clearly brings out the changes in his character as he makes this journey, showing a degree of loss of confidence, inner anger and frustration. Louisa Mignone plays Marion Maid, a character reminiscent of Emma Peel, for those who have seen the recent late night repeats of The Avengers television series. Mignone has all the moves as she portrays a martial artist with a fear of nothing and nobody, hiding her past hurts behind a veneer of nonchalance. There is a strong connection between these two and the passion between Robin and Marion is very believable due to their convincing performances.
Patrick Graham plays John, a handy man to have along if you need somebody to throw large lumps of tree at enemies, or bang a few heads together. John also has a softer side, though, and Graham lets us see hints of that loneliness and even despair in a fine performance. Writer, Matthew Whittet, takes the role of Wil, who gives the impression that he’d rather be in a library then running around with a gang of outlaws but is there out of loyalty to Marion. Whittet has written himself a difficult role but handles it with ease.
Danielle Catanzariti plays Much junior and King Richard. She is an absolute delight as the child’s spirit, following the activities of Robin and his group, unable to help or advise them but still trying hard to guide them. Geoff Revell takes on any role that is not nailed down, from Mr Maid to Guy the assassin, turning them inside out to discover all of the possibilities and then making them his own. Carmel Johnson plays Much and Marty, the Sheriff, with her usual well considered approach to both characters. She is one of the reliable mainstays of Adelaide theatre and her inclusion in a cast always pleases an audience.
Jonathon Oxlade’s multipurpose set looks great and works well. Luke Smiles, makes a passing reference to musique concrète in his sound design, with recordings he has made from a wide variety of sources sitting alongside some familiar and not so familiar music, ranging from the Clowns of Decadence’s I Don’t Know What I Can Save You From through to I Can See Clearly Now. Richard Vabre’s complex lighting design is also an extremely important part of this piece.
This is another fine piece of work from Windmill, this time for the older section of their audience, with a suggested minimum age of fifteen due to the adult themes, violence and strong language. It is also a good piece for school groups, with a huge range of possible classroom discussions that can be drawn from it.
Reviewed by Barry Lenny, Arts Editor Glam Adelaide.