Walking into the Bram Goldsmith Theater, I was wow’d by the verdant, magical and dramatic Sherwood Forest set by scenic designer Borkur Jonsson. The camouflage green, enormous skateboard-style ramp acts as a hill for Robin Hood and his delightful band of outlaws to run, tumble and slide down. There is also a small pond with water that some of the acrobats, singers and swashbuckling comedians dip and even submerge themselves into throughout the show.
Written by David Farr and Directed by Gisli Örn Gardarsson and Selma Björnsdóttir, the re-telling of this classic story is a collaboration with the Icelandic theatre company Vesturport.
The show begins with celebrity Salka Sól, a beautiful blonde Icelandic singer, musician and actress, playing the guitar while wearing a fashionable beret. Other musicians are hidden in the Sherwood Forest and peek out from behind the trees.
Handsome Robin Hood (played confidently by Luke Forbes) appears onstage showing off his impressive eight pack that is partially hidden by his brown leather vest. His Merry Men include Will Scarlett (Sam Meader) and Much Miller (Kasey Mahaffy). They agree to include Little John (Jeremy Crawford) into their fraternity with the condition that no women are allowed in their gang. “A woman causes stones in a man’s heart,” Robin Hood tells Little John. “Swear you won’t bring a woman,” he demands.
As part of the skateboard-style ramp, it flips out into a drawbridge and we meet two women who will thicken the plot. While the Duke of York is away, his two daughters Marion (Christina Bennett Lind) and Alice (Sarah Hunt) are hiding away in the castle. Alice is the flirtatious younger sister eager to marry. She is not allowed to until Marion marries first. Marion is the finest maiden in England, yet she is “willing to die a maid than marry,” having not met the right man. It’s fun watching these two sisters in dresses, slide down the ramp and run up the walls with ease, waiting for their father to return.
The story is as much a tale about Marion as it is about Robin Hood. This is a time when a woman is “not worth the sweat of a man’s labor.” Tired of being confined to her castle while her father is away, Marion yearns to see what is beyond the walls. She enlists her confidant servant Pierre (Daniel Franzese) to wander into the woods together.
When they confront Robin Hood and his men, Marion is not afraid and locks eyes with Robin Hood. You can sense their connection.
Of course there is an evil element that include King Richard and his brother Prince John, who display fierce rage and a sexual appetite. Prince John wants England to have a new King and seeks Marion to be his bride.
When an unfortunate man hangs, leaving the man’s young son and daughter as orphans, Marion desires to join the Merry Men and transforms into Master Martin of Sherwood. Dressed similar to a Peter Pan character, Martin/Marion has a big heart and saves Robin Hood’s life. Earning the respect of the others, Martin/Marion teaches them what a true man of the forest should be like. Sleeping on bare soil, and waking with deer sounds wonderful to Marion/Martin.
Pierre provides the comic relief and one of his funniest scenes is when he gets ready for bed. He takes the children under his wings and helps them adjust to “night is where the forest sings.”
During intermission, I overheard some of the audience discussing how fun it would be to be a part of this cast. It’s a show filled with music, combat, tumbling and acrobatics. At times it reminds me a little bit like watching the Cirque du Soleil.
In the end, there is a beautiful wedding ceremony, not in the castle, but in the forest as the two lovers spin on ropes hanging down from the ceiling wearing lighted wreaths on their head.
This thrilling collaboration with an multi-talented ensemble will leave you on the edge of your seat applauding.
Tickets are available now until Dec. 17, 2017. To buy tickets and learn more, go to The Wallis.