Report by Jo Fisher:
That old saying: "Two into one doesn't go" was brought to mind during
the Headley Theatre Club's pantomime, 'Robin Hood and the Babes in the Wood'.
With three performances behind the players there are four more to go.
This year the club departed slightly from its traditional "localized" pantomime and purchased a script written by K.O. Samuel. The cast found themselves involved with all the usual activities of pantomime, singing, dancing, slapstick, and romance, but at the same time struggling with a disjointed, shallow plot.
Under the joint production of Di Rabbetts and Marie Bryan, the cast made a good show from an inadequate script. The stage time allocated to Robin Hood and the Babes was very limited, and the longest of stage time was given to the two "villains" of the piece, Coppernob (Jimmy Ellis) and Gingernut (Ray Pascoe). Old favourites in former club productions, their hilarious antics and slapstick were appreciated by young and old alike.
A classic example was their entrance to the Fairy Dell on ropes, Tarzan-style, where, appropriately clad in ballet dresses and heavy boots, they executed some delightfully grotesque ballet.
Brian Olaf is excellent as the Baron, wicked uncle to the Babes, and his sinister designs upon them were exaggerated with the clever use of coloured lighting. His decision to rid himself of his nephew and niece is thwarted by Coppernob and Gingernut, who, having agreed to remove the children, cannot bring themselves to carry out the dastardly deed.
The scene in the Fairy Dell was very pretty when the forest turned from shades of green and brown to fluorescent blues and shimmering gold. The fairies were attractive, and particularly appealing were the three mini-fairies, Jane Deeks, Amanda Shepton, and Jacqueline Bradshaw. Their dances had been arranged by Maureen Leeson, of the Bellairs Ballet School at Haslemere.
Simon Cornish was an obvious choice for Alan-A-Dale, having a pleasant, strong voice, much improved since last year's pantomime, and adding his own brand of humour to the character.
The appearance of the King, played by Larry Armstrong, in the last act brought immediate response from the audience. He made good use of the stage and his diction was very clear. The King is portrayed as a monarch, considering himself witty and continually making puns. To make sure no one misses their cue to laugh, his jester, played by Alan Keen, blows a whistle as soon as a joke has been made.
The audience became involved in singing a song with the King called "Chick-Chick-Chick- Chick-Chicken," and Larry Armstrong gives a remarkable performance of a clucking hen, even to the point of laying a large egg.
The backstage crew must be congratulated on the sets and scenery. With four different sets, a great deal of work was involved, but different results were achieved by clever use of backcloths, lighting, and props. Stage manager was David Bryan, assisted by Philip Longhurst, George Fisher, Liz Dhillon, Don Brewster, Vicki Cook, Stephen Cooper, and Mitch Allen.
Other characters were Robin Hood (Jane Kelway), Little John (Michael Marks), Friar Tuck (Rie Gerstel), Sir Richard (John Western), Maid Marian (Juliet Buckle), Sheriff of Nottingham (Joan Parkinson), Landlady (Phyllis Brewster), The Babes, Billy and Betty (Mark and Sara Thomas), The Nurse (Doreen Keen), Villagers (Celia Haydon and Jeeny Hughs), Guests (Karen Wiffiams, Sara Cook and Lucy Marks), Robin Hood's Men (Phyllis Brewster and Michael Marks).
The musical accompaniment on piano and drums was very good, being completely audible but not overpowering, and was provided by John Mortley and Paul Buck.
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