THEATRE REVIEW: This is mostly for the kids
Gayle Edmunds took her family to see Robin Hood and the Babes in the Wood.
Robin Hood and the Babes in the Wood
Joburg Theatre, Braamfontein
Tickets R100 to R350 at webtickets.co.za
Runs till December 30
I am a traditionalist. Since I was a child, I have gone to the pantomime every year. Now that I am older, I take my own child to the pantomime.
Unfortunately, this year’s Robin Hood and the Babes in the Wood is more miss than hit. For adults. The children loved it, though their critical faculties are underdeveloped and they declared that the best bit was that the baddie was afraid of the Teletubbies (who get about three minutes of stage time between them). The other bit they loved was the end when balloons fell from the roof.
Though created with lashings of mayhem, madness and merry men in tights, the first half is messy. Not in terms of timing, that is always perfect, as are the songs, costumes and sets. The problem lies in the plot – or rather the lack of a coherent one. The Babes in the Wood part of the story feels arbitrary, while Robin Hood doesn’t really shoot straight and true with pop and soapie star Izak Davel in the lead. He has a powerful singing voice, but he lacks stage presence. He is easily upstaged by more experienced stage actors, including his sidekick and panto regular Bongi Mthombeni (Will Scarlet), Candida Mosoma (Much the Miller’s Son), Phumi Mncayi (Little John) and Carmen Pretorius (Maid Marian).
Veterans Kate Normington (Silly Sylviana) and Desmond Dube (Friar Tuck) return to deliver as many laughs as they can get, while Graham Hopkins is the villain, and LJ Urbani dons a dress as the wicked stepmother/witch.
The traditional panto song when everyone has to stand, sing and slap each other’s bums is replaced by a hilarious version of the 12 Days of Christmas, which was the highlight of the show for me.
With our politics more lively than a night out at the Saxonwold Shebeen, I felt that, although writer Janice Honeyman got lots of the topical jokes in, she could have been cheekier with the juicy news of wholesale state robbery and the classic social justice story of Robin Hood.
What is the theatre show you and your kids enjoyed most? Do you take them to the theatre? Send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.