Lighthouse Poole a twinkle in his eye and swash here and buckle there, folk hero Robin Hood runs glorious rings around the dastardly Sheriff of Nottingham in this fun-filled pantomime at Poole’s Lighthouse.
With boos and hisses aplenty Game of Thrones baddy Patrick O’Kane makes a wonderfully malevolent Sheriff – evil and pathetic in equal parts. It’s a character the kids love to hate while mum’s and dad’s can all too easily relate to the idea of an arrogantly out of control authority figure who is squeezing his people for taxes they can’t afford.
His nemesis is Robin of Loxley, banished to the depths of Sherwood Forest and branded an outlaw. This Ripping Yarns style character - confident, laid-back and played with studied insouciance by CBBC presenter Ed Petrie - proves the perfect foil to the vile villain.
One look at this stylish man of the Forest who robs the rich to give to the poor and you just know good is going to triumph over evil. He dresses well - no drab Lincoln green here and, though I don’t think he ever actually slapped his thigh, the implicatioin is clear. This is hero/principal boy rolled into one. At the centre of the story of course is Robin’s love for the beautiful Maid Marion (Alicia Woodhouse) and the Sheriff’s plan to kidnap her and steal her inheritance. Boo, hiss!
The knockabout farce that ensues is fun family entertainment every inch of the way. There are hapless thieves Bill and Ben (Dan Looney and Neil Smee) recruited by the Sheriff to do his dirty work. They turn out to be hopeless criminals, provide a dollop of slapstick levity and brilliantly undermine the pomposity of the Sheriff or King Leer as I now like to think of him.
Writer and director Tom Bright meanwhile draws on decades of working the northern clubs to deliver a perfectly pantomimic reading of Friar Tuck. What emerges is a pork-pie obsessed monk who morphs seamlessly into this panto’s dame – one fragrantly named Gladys Windybottom. One can’t help feeling that the very presense of the Friar also acts as a focus for concentration for those actors apt to fall foul of occasional Spooneristic lapses.
That said, this really is a pantomime which has everything, though ironically it probably isn’t technically a pantomime at all. Never mind. – the main components are all in place. Goodies, baddies, crazy capers, talented young dancers and even a Good Fairy ( Stephanie Walker). There’s singalong fun and a fine set too.
A show not to be missed. Robin Hood plays Lighthouse in Poole until Sunday 4th January. For Tickets & information call 0844 406 8666 or go to www.lighthousepoole.co.uk