This Sherwood Forest hero is a little too familiar
The GLOB Master was excited about seeing the Hippodrome Theater's production of Robin Hood that continues through this weekend and ends May 5.
This was my first opportunity to watch Ric Rose, er, uh, Robin Hood in a speaking performance since we worked together at UF's School of Theater and Dance in the 90s. Photo Right: Robin Hood and Maid Marian — with Ric Rose and Nichole Hamilton
I have always enjoyed Hipp productions so, to say the least, my expectations for this performance were super-sized. I bragged to Tonya and Kendall about the unique environment of the Hipp's Main Stage-- its intimate setting, close up seating, and partial theater in the round experience. Thank you Hipp for not disappointing.
There were many young persons in the audience to enjoy the show, and the story was familiar to most of the theater goers. The action started quickly with Robin Hood setting out to aide Maid Marian and to vanquish the king yet again by stealing the gold that the king stole from the hard-working peasants.
Speaking of theater in the round, the play started cleverly with black-robed individuals walking down the theater aisles to the stage as if they were begging for offerings. It turned out that these individuals served as a Greek chorus for this adventure of Sherwood Forest's chief woodsman, robber and Nottingham's ultimate hero. Photo Right: Robin Hood's Merrymen Chorus — Hannah Benitez, Kenneth Smoak and Logan Wolfe.
Ric Rose was excellent as Robin Hood, especially when he was disguised as an onlooker in a ladies pink night dress and sunglasses to engage the wicked sheriff.
I did find myself eagerly awaiting the impromptu take aways from the main story by the Hipp cast members as Robin Hood quickly solved the issues of the good people of Nottingam.
Unfortunately for me there were some non sequitur vignettes that seemed somewhat familiar from other shows.
The play had started out with a perfect, stylized, contemporary, approach but then became confusing at times by what I thought might have been too much style that overshadowed a Robin Hood script short on content. The story never really seemed to meld completely. Perhaps because of the many sight gags and what may have been an over enthusiastic attempt to modernize this tale of good and evil, the Hipp's attempt to find a new, creative take on another age-old story appear at times to fall short in the CRASH, BAM, BOOM, SKYROCKET greatness category. Photo Right: Robin Hood and Little John meet for the first time. — with Ric Rose and Cameron Francis
For example, I was puzzled with the ongoing 'movie trivia' game the Chorus was playing. I'm guessing the movie trivia questions for the audience offered a modern day slant to Robin Hood's ongoing adventure. The movie trivia gimmick worked with the first tune, but failed on the second attempt, with me digesting what had just happened in the movie trivia rather than continuing to watch the performance.
But stop my nit-picking here. Robin Hood was fun, and the actors had the audience happily participating in the shows playful, fun filled antics.
Maybe it's like trying to choose between chocolate and vanilla frozen custard. You like both kinds of sweet custard joy. But dessert is REALLY special when you get your favorite play genre, er, uh, flavor.
After the play, Tonya, Kendall and I talked about the seasoned cast and productions team, how professional, talented, and very smart they are and the variety of productions, from intense drama to musicals and comedies that the Hipp presents. My companions were properly impressed.
Robin Hood continues on stage at the Hippordome Theater through May 5.