The Heart Of Robin Hood


Review by Willard Manus

“There is no evidence for Robin Hood as a historical character, or for any attempt to set him up as such within at least three centuries of his alleged lifetime,” wrote Lord Raglan in his authoritative book, “The Hero–-A Study in Tradition, Myth, and Drama.” But even Lord Raglan would have had the time of his life at THE HEART OF ROBIN HOOD, the Anglo/Icelandic hoot of a show which recently played at The Wallis (and is now touring nationally).

Written by a Brit, David Farr, directed by the Icelanders Gisli Orn Gardarsson and Selma Bjornsdottis, THE HEART OF ROBIN HOOD has much fun with the Robin Hood story, using music and song, acrobatics, rough and tumble comedy, and dazzling stage effects to reinvent it as a 21st-century entertainment.

Borkur Jonsson’s ingenious set turns the stage into a corner of Sherwood Forest which is dominated by a 40-foot curved, upholstered wall. The actors and sometimes the musicians (all four of them) make their entrances by whooshing down the wall, like kids in a playground. They also somehow manage to run or crawl up the

wall when they need to exit. Even the stage floor becomes part of the show; there’s a small pond stage left in which ducks quack and a shark’s dorsal fin appears. Stage right is a large hole down which various characters disappear. There are also dazzling lighting effects, fog, actors who plummet down into the action on ropes, and a singer (Salka Sol) who wanders around singing dreamy songs right out of a Eurovision contest.

Oh, yes, there’s also a lusty, fast-paced story which pits good-guy Robin Hood (the dynamic Luke Forbes) against the bad-ass Prince John (Eirik Del Barco Soleglad), who struts around in a glitzy costume like a rock star. Other lead characters include Christina Bennett Lind, doing hilarious double-duty as maid Marian posing as a man in order to join Robin’s merry gang, and Daniel Franzese as Pierre, a Fallstaff-like rogue who does his best to avoid all battles and sword-fights (of which there are many).

The entire 22-person cast is top-notch in every respect. They act, sing, leap, dance, tumble and fly all over the place, creating a world that is both enchanting and unforgettable.