Reviewed by Amanda Hayes
Not everyone knows that as well as the main theatre and studio spaces, the Hawth Theatre, Crawley, also has an outdoor amphitheatre. Set in the woods a very short walk from the main theatre building, the amphitheatre provides a completely different experience when watching shows. It is shaded from the sun, spacious, and most importantly has a great view from every position. The theatre kindly provide covered bench type seat pads to pick up on your way in, but most people also bring picnic blankets, snacks and drink depending on the length of the show.
We took our 8 year old son, and after a brief resume of the story of Robin hood in the car on the way there, we grabbed our picnic blanket and settled in for the show. One of the best things about the amphitheatre is that you are very close up to the stage, and therefore the actors, so it’s a really intimate experience that totally brings the story to life.
Parkwood Productions presents the show, with a cast of ten, mainly Sussex or London based actors, and tells the traditional tale of the outlaw of Sherwood Forest but with a contemporary twist. The story is clearly told of how Robin Hood robs from the rich to give to the poor, starting with a fight that recruits Little John to his band of merry men. Living deep in the forest Robin and his men had been estranged from the community in various ways and got together to form a tight knit group against the misdemeanours of the nasty Sheriff of Nottingham. The fight scenes are excellent, very well staged and real looking, especially as you are so close. On getting beaten by a feisty lady in a fight over a bracelet, he realises it’s his childhood love, Maid Marion, and falls in love all over again. When one of his band betrays him, after getting caught stealing from the Sheriff, its Marion that Robin comes back to save resulting in more swashbuckling sword fighting scenes and a heart warming romantic ending.
The story is backed throughout with mesmerising singing from the band of actors, all done beautifully with no music whatsoever. It breaks up the scenes nicely and provides a little audience participation when the crowd can clap along and get used to the repeating tunes.
We had a great time watching Robin Hood in the amphitheatre, and the rain held off!
The scenery is very simple but effective and really suited the setting of the wooded glade that it was performed in. The costumes are again simple, as they need to be, as several of the actors changed characters throughout. The stars of the show, however are the four main characters, Robin Hood ( Liam Murray Scott), Maid Marion (Charlotte Price), Little John (Louise Lord) & Guy Gisbourne (Matt Tweddle) who all performed brilliantly with sharp acting, great fighting scenes and a perfect portrayal of the story. The show is being performed from Friday 9th July to Sunday 11th with two shows per day at the weekend, so get your tickets to enjoy this production while you can. Just a note that the show is fairly short at 1 hour, so get there early to enjoy your picnic before the show. There is plenty of free parking right outside and the setting is delightful.
Rating: Highly recommended 5 out of 5
For more information please see the Hawth website here.