Last weekend saw audiences in the school theatre marvel at yet another magical production from the cauldron of creativity that is the Packwood Drama Department.
Shot through with fantastically lame puns and silly jokes, ‘Robin and the Sherwood Hoodies’ was the funniest ever Packwood junior play.
Narrator, Harry W in a succession of silly hats (another great running gag), introduced proceedings and kept the action moving along as the play progressed. The performance began with a terrific, up-tempo opening number, ‘Sherwood Forest’ that set the scene for what was to come. Alexis K as a poised and dignified Maid Marion began the singing with a solo verse before the rest of the cast joined in. Here, and throughout the play, the villagers played by the Year 5s brought vitality to the crowd scenes and along with the Year 3 and 4 chorus added to the volume, joy and colour of the performance.
Based on the traditional tale, there were some unfamiliar twists to this old story… Evil King John has usurped his absent brother’s throne and tasked the ruthless Sheriff of Nottingham with raising ever more taxes from the people. Finn B was very convincing as a peevish, spoilt King John (with an excellent sinister laugh) and Oscar C played the Sheriff superbly, making the most of his share of the terrible jokes!
Maid Marion recruits Robin Hood and his band to help in the fight against the tax collectors but does so without realising they are in fact, “…England’s finest troupe of travelling entertainers…”, not the fearless outlaws she was looking for. The merry men are out of work since King John shut down the theatres and happily answer Maid Marion’s request.
Led by the outstanding Charlie W as Robin, the troupe (again joined by the whole ensemble) introduced themselves with the exuberant song, ‘Men in Tights’. Freddie B (Dancing Dave) was magnificent in his gold sequinned knee breeches and threw himself enthusiastically into his performance. Alan a Dale (Will C) and Little/Big John (George C) showed a real command of the script and delivered their puns and jokes with great comic timing. Much Muscles (Finlay M) and Friar Tuck (Hugo D) made up the rest of the band though their number is soon augmented by the arrival of Will Scarlett. Meghan S made the very most of this role and her confidence on stage helped her deliver an excellent comic performance.
Eventually, the mix-up comes to light, but Robin and his men bravely offer to help where they can. In the ensuing scenes, we meet more wonderful characters, including Sam L and Freddie S as hapless robbers, Grabbit and Bolt, who both showed their dramatic and comedic talents to great effect. Robin and his men are eventually captured and taken to King John’s castle for punishment and torture. Dungeon master, Gavin Gutwrencher, is suavely played by Daniel G and Monty P is wonderfully weird as his sidekick, Genghis. Ultimately, the merry men are saved from a terrible fate by the timely return of the true monarch, Good King Richard (Mr Cowley, who else?). Evil John and the Sheriff are flattened by The Squisher in the torture chamber, and the prisoners are released.
A reprise of ‘Men in Tights’ brought the action to a close before a final surprise as the cast took to the stage and danced the floss to Katy Perry’s hit song, ‘Swish, Swish’. Again, Freddie B shone in this wonderfully uplifting finale – the perfect end to a truly fantastic junior play.
Huge credit is due to all who made it possible – stage crew, lighting and sound, costumes and props, make-up, set design, dressers, musical direction – but most of all to peerless Director and Choreographer, Mrs Mainwaring, and her assistant, Mr Cowley. Congratulations all.