By John Kubalak
Simply the mention of Robin Hood evokes images of high adventure and the all-too-familiar story of good versus evil. On its own, it’s a ripping yarn sure to entertain the kids. In the hands of Seattle Children’s Theatre you can expect a treat. Go see this show – your kids will love it!
Given the outsized subject, I was expecting this to be a main stage production with a cast of thousands, but it was in the smaller Eve Alvord Theater with a cast of four. The more intimate venue was perfect for the comic melodrama of this interpretation. At times the comedy was so broad it bordered on cabaret. The show was full of traditional melodrama staging, encouraging the audience to interact with the characters – and if you’re sitting in the first few rows watch out, because the actors will be climbing over you.
The show opens and closes with an odd contemporary framing device, but when Robin Hood literally swings onto the stage, it’s a thrilling moment. The Sheriff of Nottingham sets the stage for the melodrama when he delivers a speech about how he doesn’t like children and then hisses at the audience. Events and comic pieces build from there until Prince John is wheeled onto the stage -- in his bath of money -- accompanied by a 70s disco theme. At that point the show is so far over the top that anything goes, including bringing audience members on stage.
It didn’t matter what the cast did -- my kids loved it and parents were laughing just as hard at many of the jokes. SCT’s age recommendation is 8 and older, which I think is a good guideline. One of the biggest challenges for younger kids will be following the multiple and rapid costume and character changes by the hardworking and excellent ensemble.
But for all its action and comedy, I have to say this was one of the more uneven productions I’ve seen at SCT and I was surprised. After the climatic battle, which included a clever bit of stagecraft, the tone turned from comic mayhem to an extended bit of somber drama that didn’t really fit with the rest of the production.
Regardless, uneven as it is, Robin Hood at SCT is still one of the most entertaining theatrical experiences in town and well worth your time.
Robin Hood runs through Nov. 28 at Seattle Children's Theatre. It's recommended for ages 8 and older for "fast moving action and multilayered plot." Tickets are $25-$36.