It’s that time of year again; the weather gets colder, coffee shops sell mulled wine and theatres host a panto!
For the second year in a row, Eight-Freestyle brings Robin Hood: The 80s panto to Contact Theatre, Manchester.
This throwback extravaganza claims to have it all, with their socials promising: adventure, action, laughs, music, magic and men with mullets!
The theme of the show is obvious, even before the curtain opens, as an 80s rock medley plays and vaporwave videos are projected onto the curtain. It takes you back in time, with graphics featuring retro chunky phones, Gameboys and cassettes. While younger members of the audience might not know what these things are, hopefully, they will get distracted and sing along and not ask too many questions that make you feel old.
If you don’t already know the story of Robin Hood, there is a helpful Fairy of the Forest to guide you, with the use of a PowerPoint featuring Clippy (Remember him?!) and plenty of puns. Kate Mitchell as the Fairy uses her magic wand and northern humour throughout to keep the story on track.
The show follows Maid Marion and Robin trying to stop the Sherrif of Nottingham’s evil plans of kidnapping the Babes. Robin, played by Michael Higgwe, is the heartthrob of the story, with Maid Marion falling for him as soon as they lay eyes on each other.
Marion, played by Rebecca Crookson is the lead role in the show, despite it being named after her hero and love interest. She goes on a quest to help The Babes and avoid getting captured by the evil, eyeliner-wearing hair metal-inspired Sherrif, played by Adam Urey. She sings and dances her way through the story, with the help of Friar tuck, Little J, Nursey and the comedy duo Alan and Gilbert.
The musical numbers are of course all popular songs from the 80s, with lyrics changed in true panto style. The court jester duo, Alan A’dale and Gilbert the goth sing Africa by Toto as ‘Bless the rains down in Nottingham’ for example. There is even a contemporary dance routine to the classic Kate bush song Running Up That Hill, with a few Stranger things references thrown in too.
A panto wouldn’t be complete without an over-the-top camp character and this time it’s Jonathan Mayor as Nurse Finger-do, first name Wilma, who has the whole audience in stitches whenever they saunter on stage. For me, Nursey is the star of the show. Their adult one-liners and extravagant costumes draw you to the character and Jonathan plays the role perfectly.
All the dances are choreographed brilliantly and with a variety of dancers from different ages, but all equally as talented. The Babes, Khloe and Kim, played by two young girls performed perfectly, even singing A Capella rendition of stand by me.
This sing-along panto has something for everyone, there are classic knock-knock jokes and slapstick comedy for the younger audience members, songs and storytelling for the bigger kids, and for the grown-ups, there are plenty of tongue-in-cheek references to make you giggle. This show isn’t just for kids, it really does have it all!
Running from Saturday the 10th to Saturday the 31st of December at the Contact Theatre Manchester.
Tickets start from £8 and the show is suitable for all ages, with a run time of around two hours.