robin stage

Robin Hood & the Major Oak

Derby Theatre


A fine new Easter production for all the family written by Deb McAndrew who has rebooted the classic tale for a 21st century audience in a seamlessly integrated BSL production, signed and captioned.

All the traditional elements are here for mums and dads but with plenty of child friendly ingredients, not least a powerful eco friendly message about the importance of trees and the environment.

In an era when Boris Johnson , Emanuel Macron, and Benjamin Netanyahu have come under the spotlight for perceived abuses of power, the morality tale of the excesses of the Sheriff of Nottingham and Guy of Gisborne has lost none of its contemporaneous impact.

And after a Liz Truss/Kwasi Kwarteng government thought that it was a good idea to take from the poor to give to the rich, Robin Hood is back to offer his own more egalitarian views on wealth redistribution ably assisted by Little John (Oraine Johnson). 

Writer McAndrew made her name originally as Angie Freeman in 1990’s television soap opera Coronation Street, but has gone on to forge a distinguished career as a dramatist and playwright with several other productions appearing around the country this year.

robin trio

In April 2018, McAndrew was announced as Leeds Trinity University's new Chancellor and has worked with the Hull Truck Theatre Company, Northern Broadsides and Claybody theatre.

Emily Bestow has created a lush set which effortlessly transforms from castle to forest. Tim Heywood’s costumes are lavish and colourful. Musical stalwart Ivan Stott has composed the score and plays with an onstage ensemble of musicians, along with lead singer Joanna Simpkins as Alana Dale who ensures that we all party like it is 1499.

A strong cast is notable for its character parts, with several traditionally male roles reimagined as female. Laura Golden is brilliant as a rumbustious Tuck, Abbey Bradbury dashing as Scarlett, the angular, comic Becky Barry delivers withering aperçus as Roger the Reeve.

A fast paced production ensures that proceedings are concluded within two and a quarter hours ensuring that the attention spans of younger audience members are not tested while amplified electric music segments inject zip and chutzpah into the narrative.

The dynamic of some of the character roles has shifted, Maid Marian (Mia Ward) is less simpering female heroine and more Palace insider, Guy of Gisborne’s (Dominic Rye) dastardliness is throttled back, while the Sheriff (Adam  Bassett) channels his inner Basil Fawlty as his plans are frustrated and a splinter in his backside adds as much discomfort to him as Robin Hood does. The gross medicinal remedies offered to him delighted the young audience. My two expert child theatre goers, Sol aged nine, and May aged seven, loved it.

Craig Painting portrays a youthful, exuberant Robin Hood with brio and energy, relishing the freedom of the forest in the second Act after the constraints of his time as a prisoner in the castle in the first Act. Director Sarah Brigham and writer Deb McAndrew never lose sight of the need to entertain in this brisk and lively family show which runs until 08-04-23.

Gary Longden


Index page Derby Reviews A-Z Reviews by Theatre