JOYCE MCMILLAN on THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD at Cumbernauld Theatre, for The Scotsman 17.3.14.
3 stars ****
THERE ARE two clear purposes behind this latest show from Visible Fictions, one of Scotland’s leading companies for children and young people. Co-produced by Kennedy Center in Washington, and set to tour across Scotland until May, The Adventures Of Robin Hood seeks – mainly through Oliver Emanuel’s excellent 60-minute script – to give a timely contemporary twist to a story about a rich elite who force the struggling poor to pay for their wars and follies, and about how the people find a champion – in the shape of the outlaw Robin Hood – who is willing and able to fight for them.
And then secondly, it seeks to show that a story as vivid as this can be told using only two actors, a few dozen bags of crisps, and a heap of cardboard boxes, some of them taped together to make a castle; but in this respect, Douglas Irvine’s production is slightly less successful, the aesthetic of the staging sometimes clashing so sharply with the content of the tale that it begins to look plain messy, and very imprecise.
Still, the kids in the audience enjoy the fun, and the two excellent actors – Martin McCormick and Billy Mack – deliver a hugely energetic and heartfelt performance; although a little more beauty and stillness, and a little less frenzy and mess, might have helped to strengthen the message that something serious is at stake here, beyond the shouts of laughter.