Rollicking good fun

2010-12-16 00:00

WATCHING KickStArt Theatre Company’s latest festive offering, Robin Hood and the Babes in the Wood, made me feel like a child again.

Mixing the story of Robin Hood and his Merry Men with elements of a 16th-century English ballad about two children abandoned deep in the forest upon the orders of their wicked uncle, this panto is frothy, fun and completely fabulous.

Darren King plays the scene-stealing dame, Nurse Nicely, who is tasked by the evil Sheriff of Nottingham (Iain ‘Ewok’ Robinson) to look after his nieces Maid Marian (Londiwe­ Dhlomo) and Kate (Kiara Teunissen) and his nephew Ned (Andrew Sutton, who is a young talent to watch).

Enter evil enchantress, Morgan le Fey (Liesl Coppin), who decides to meddle in the affairs of humans after being released from a spell cast by her archenemy Merlin (Farai Gwaze). She encourages the sheriff to do away with the children and to marry Marian and so get control­ of their ailing father’s fortune.

Unfortunately he gets two bumbling criminals — Claude and Cecil (played by Peter­ Court and Bryan Hiles) — to do away with the babes. Instead of killing the children they leave them alone in the woods to be eaten by wild animals. But Ned and Kate are saved by the combined efforts of Merlin and Robin Hood (Lyle Buxton­) and find themselves flying to the safety of Robin’s camp on the back of a dragon. Meanwhile, Marion­ is still in danger and it’s up to Robin and the gang to rescue her.

Helping the main stars are six versatile actors — Ntando Mncube, Clinton Small, Marc Kay, Graeme Wicks, Evashnee Pillay and Roxy Nel — who between them play villagers­, the Merry Men, courtiers, fairies and even school children in one of the funniest scenes in the panto.

Robin Hood and the Babes in the Wood is also packed with familiar tunes, such as Who Will Buy from My Fair Lady, Go West by the Pet Shop Boys, Beyoncé’s Single Ladies­, Somewhere Out There from American Tale, Katrina and the Waves’ Walking on Sunshine and Freshlyground’s Doo Be Doo. The show has tons of audience participation for the children young and old; gorgeous costumes and sets, and some of the best puppets you’ve ever seen. Designer, Greg King, has outdone himself.

So, if you’re wondering what to do with your little ones over the holidays, make sure that you get tickets for KickStArt’s delightful romp through the enchanted forests and castles of medieval England.

— Estelle Sinkins.

• Robin Hood, and the Babes in the Wood can be seen at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre at UKZN Durban until January 9. Show times: 2.30 pm, Tuesday to Sunday and 7 pm on Fridays and Saturdays. There will be no show on Christmas Day, Boxing Day or New Year’s Day. Tickets­ R130 (R100 concessions) from Computicket.

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