Robin Hood & Bairns in the Wood

Dec 6 2018 | By More

★★★★★     Hugely entertaining

Church Hill Theatre: Wed 5 – Sat 8 Dec 2018
Review by Sarah Moyes

From Sherwood Forest to the Church Hill Theatre, Robin Hood and his Bairns in the Wood shine in this year’s fun and entertaining pantomime from the Balerno Theatre Company.

The show combines the traditional stories of Robin Hood and Babes in the Wood with a brief appearance from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

Robin Hood (Jake Poynter), Maid Marion (Ashley Davies) and the Merry Men. Pic: BTC

It tells the tale of the wicked Sheriff Hall Roundabout who hatches a plan to leave Sue and Beau (the King’s children who he is enlisted to look after) in the forest to die. Luckily Maid Marion overhears the evil plan and recruits Robin, his sister Little Red Riding and the whole bunch of Merry Men to help save the children.

The show begins in Nottingham with an all-singing and all-dancing performance of Good Morning Nottingham, a spin on Hairspray’s, Good Morning Baltimore. It’s everything you want from a big opening number and with updated lyrics such as “every day is an Instagram” even those unfamiliar with its origins are sure to enjoy it.

Jake Poynter plays everyone’s fearless leader Robin Hood joined by his band on Merry Men including Little John (Jamie Duffy), Will Scarlet (Ade Smith), Alan-a-Dale (Joe Mooney), Much The Miller’s Son (Charlie Macbeth), Nun Chuck (Naomi Collins) and Kirsten Keggie as sister Little Red Riding Hood. The loveable group are a joy to watch and give a fantastic performance of Men in Tights while providing much hilarity throughout the show.

The lovable but slightly stupid Maid Marion is played by Ashley Davies and she’s joined by the Marionettes – Megan Nicol, Susanna Anderson and Clara Jones – who provide some strong vocal performances throughout.

utterly hilarious

George Mackie is utterly hilarious as Dame Nanny Fanny of the Falkirk Fannies. His performance is one of the highlights of the show as he continually has the audience in stitches with his manner and colourful and over-the-top costumes. This is the sixth time Mackie has taken on the dame, and it is clearly one that was made just for him.

Dame Nanny Fanny (George Mackie) and the Sheriff Hall Roundabout (Danny Henderson)

Making their debut pantomime appearances are Craig McKirgan as Hoddit and Steven Brown as Doddit, a pair of sidekicks to Danny Henderson as Sheriff Hall Roundabout. The trio work well together as the conspire to leave the bairns in the forest to starve or be eaten by wolfs (there’s a cheery story for you).

The roles of the bairns, Sue and Beau, alternate every night and were played by Freya Reid and Harry Wilson on the night Æ saw the show. The very young pair are ever the professionals with Freya’s sassy attitude winning over an adoring audience.

The second half opens with Heigh Ho from Snow White (played by Clara Jones) and the Seven Dwarfs. It might seem like an odd choice of characters and song for a production of Robin Hood – and you’d be right as it turns out the classic storybook characters have found themselves in the wrong pantomime. Random? Very. But it works.

This year’s show also sees the return of a huge LED screen at the back of the stage which helps to transform the scenes like the town square in Nottingham and inside the palace making the Church Hill Theatre feel almost like something you’d expect in the West End.

The story is narrated by the angelic Fairy Queen of the Forest played by Annie Mackie who is returning to BTC after a six-year hiatus and her beautifully sung rendition of Pure Imagination from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory is reason enough to welcome her back.

Little Red Riding Hood (Kirsten Keggie) and Little John (Jamie Duffy). Pic: BTC

It’s during the big musical numbers that the Balerno Theatre Company really shines and nothing proves that more than during the Les Misérables classic One Day More which closes the first half and Mamma Mia led by the Marionettes dressed in their finest Abba costumes.

The show has enough adult material to keep the older members of the audience entertained while dropping in topical references from the likes of I’m a Celebrity and the Bake Off. Kids and adults alike can enjoy the show’s slapstick with custard pies and water pistols making an appearance in a Twelve Days of Christmas sketch.

Balerno Theatre Company’s Robin Hood & Bairns in the Wood might well be an amateur production – but there nothing amateurish about this show at all. It’s clever, entertaining, well produced and laugh-out-loud funny. In fact, it could easily give some professional productions a run for their money.

Running time: Two hours 20 minutes (including one interval)
Church Hill Theatre, 33a Morningside Road, EH10 4DR
Wednesday 5 – Saturday 8 December 2018.,
Evenings: 7.30pm; Matinee Fri: 3pm, Sat 8: 2pm.
Tickets and details: Book here.

Maid Marion (Ashley Davies) and Robin Hood (Jake Poynter)


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