THIS year the posters advertising Christmas shows are jostling for space with those pushing candidates for a general election. Both have their pantomime elements, but if it’s fun, good humour, slick jokes, colourful costumes and a large dose of love that you want, I’d suggest Salisbury Playhouse’s Robin Hood. It’s Good Good Good!
It was hard to imagine that last season’s national Beauty and the Beast could be matched, but writer Andrew Pollard has done it again, this time with the Playhouse’s artistic director Gareth Machin making his panto director debut with a light touch and a comprehensive eye to what’s needed for a great show.
It is, of course, the story of Britain’s greatest folk hero, Robin Hood, the man who robbed the rich and gave to the poor – what could be more apt in this time of battling candidates across the political divide?
But it’s not the heavy stuff that family audiences want from the pantomime – it’s excitement, colour and comfort.
In the title role is X Factor star Giovanni Spano, making full use of his Meatloaf credentials as he winks wickedly at his devoted fans. He even makes the soppy love songs (with Alice Stokoe’s Maid Marian) fun for the younger members of the audience.
New to the story is Consuela (hilariously played by Bernadette Bangura) the rejected Spanish servant of the evil Sheriff of Nottingham (Greg Barnett doing his Lord Flashman thing with whining panache).
Leonard Cook is a loveable Tuck, with the multi-talented Lauren Azania as the conflicted Alana Dale.
And then of course, there is the dame. Adrian Grove, a Bristol Old Vic Theatre School 2007 graduate and a regular at the Salisbury Salberg Theatre Christmas shows, moves upstairs and into the petticoats of Nurse Nora Virus, and already he’s a terrific dame. He has all the
glamour and charm, over the top flirting, quick repartee and vulnerability to appeal to everyone in the audience (especially James on the afternoon we were there!)
This Robin Hood tells the story, is filled with songs and dances and spectacle, and has already broken box office presales records. It’s on until 12th January 2020. And it’s well worth a visit if you want a traditional show, brilliantly done.
Photographs by The Other Richard