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KATS - Robin Hood & the Babes in the Wood

21st to 24th February 2001.

This is from the Newbury Weekly News.

Hamming it up in panto-land

KATS' 'Robin Hood & the Babes in the Wood', at The Kennet School from February 22 to 24

The plot of 'Robin Hood and The Babes in the Wood' is as traditional as roast beef and Yorkshire pudding. Boy meets girl, evil almost triumphs, enormous knickers get flashed at the audience and, as usual, the kids get to steal the show, no matter how good the adult performance. Ham may he ham but as long as it is served up fresh off the bone the panto-land spell remains unbroken.

Dave Caulfield, (Sheriff of Nottingham), played as good a villain as you'll get in any pantomime. Bad through and through he may have been, but the audience loved him - so much so that interest seemed to wane when he wasn't there to whip things along. Drama needs pace and by setting this production three-quarters in the round, long entrances and exits hindered rather than helped. Snappy punchlines got lost and cues were slowed down while a perfectly good stage was under-utilised.

Carrie Marsh gave a fine comedic performance in the role of Nursie Nosegay, however you could not help but believe that the role was written with the obligatory pantomime dame in mind. Still, dame or no dame, the tradition lived on in the form of an enormous pair of drawers, some excellent lines and facial expressions plus a pithy performance from Val Williams (Gaylord the Dog).

The duet between Claire Bowden (Robin) and Becky Mudge (Maid Marion) created a special magic when boy met girl in a spotlit moment. But because the lighting was generally allowed to flood over actors and audience alike, the spell of the forest glade was often broken and worse, the cast were denied the right to create a world that was theirs and theirs alone.

This was a shame. The show's big musical number proved that the Villagers and Merry Men were more than up to the job in hand. The obnoxious babes were spot on and the rest of the cast a credit. Add to this Joe Dooley's highly-entertaining wandering minstrel, an off-stage band and a well-managed sound system and it was very nearly a spell in the making.