Robin Hood

Date 7th January 2022
Society Digswell Players
Venue Digswell Village Hall
Type of Production Pantomime
Director Mary Portalaska
Musical Director David Meek
Choreographer Emma Gilby


Author: Vicki Avery

What a warm welcome I was given when I attended Digswell Players pantomime. The venue was covid compliant and everyone was so relieved that the production was going ahead. Although one member of the cast had had to withdraw due to a positive test the company had prepared for this possibility and had understudies ready for all the main roles. Good forward planning I feel. 

The opening number “I gotta feeling” was well sung by the young chorus of villagers, with smiling faces and a good sense of performance. This put us all in the panto’ mood.

Adam Grant as Bullseye, the sheriff’s side kick, performed brilliantly under the unusual circumstances of having to work with an understudy. For one so young he showed it did not seem to phase him and his comic body language and facial expressions demonstrated that the society has a ready-made comedian in the offing. Well done Adam.

Andy Barker, who is usually to be found in the lighting box, did a sterling job as the Sheriff, standing in at the very last minute. With his script cleverly disguised as “The Sheriff’s Rule Book” he managed to deliver his lines, sing and interact with other members of the cast with confidence. Not a situation that everyone would be comfortable with. I applaud you. 

Hannah Fitton was well cast as Maid Marian. Musicality was good and diction clear. However, do try to slow down your delivery a little so that the audience can enjoy every word that you say. I enjoyed your duet with Chloe Palmer, “Keep Holding On” very much. It was one of the highlights of the panto’.

Sarah, played by Chloe Palmer worked well with Hannah and has the potential to do well in the future. Try to project your voice to the back of the hall and smile a little more. You have the ability now believe in yourself. 

Pip Gray once again was cast as the traditional comedy dame in every sense of the word. The character, Nurse Nora, was loud, brash, colourful and just a little bit naughty and I loved it. Here we had another masterclass in how to get close to the mark but never crossing it, letting the audience do all the hard work. Genius. The musical number “Roar” was hilarious and quite unexpected. Congratulations.  

Ruth Johnson as Will Scarlett had a great repour with the audience and worked hard at keeping the pace up. Pitch and pace of the dialogue was excellent and inflection throughout was well modulated. A confident performance.

Emma Gilby as our hero Robin Hood was well cast and took command of the stage on each entrance. Do try to remember that traditional principal boys always stand with feet slightly apart as it gives a more “manly” appearance and shoulders are set back. Vocals were good and your eye contact with the cast members and audience alike were very impressive. I shall be interested to see what you do next. 

Tim Palmer was just right for the character of Little John. Delivered with apparent ease, this actor was at home on stage with good timing and great facial expressions. Interaction with Adrienne worked very well and I enjoyed the comic element of both characters.

Friar Tuck, played by Andrew Read added to the comic combination of the “Merry men” and complemented Tim Palmer in both height and humorous dialogue. They say the old jokes are the best jokes and here good timing allowed the audience to laugh with the character not at the character. Sensitive direction worked very cleverly here.

Esther Carley Adrienne Perry had great fun with their characterizations of minstrel Alan a Dale and Bill the butcher. Not once did they slip out of character and facial expressions and body language were well rehearsed. The convincing comedy pair who worked very well together.

Mary Goodfellow as Morgana was truly wicked and was a strong support to the Sheriff. Vocals as always were accurate and clear; however, I was a little concerned regarding the wig. Perhaps a longer length or coloured streaks might have made more impact but this wig neither looked convincing or comfortable. A shame as I enjoyed the character. 

The remaining members of the cast worked well and enhanced the storyline bringing the whole production to a predictable and happy ending.

It was interesting to see video footage of Bullseye and Daisy the cow chasing each other through the village of Digswell. This was very funny and must have taken considerable time to film and then edit together. A great idea.

Choreography was simple but effective and made good use of the limited stage space. Costumes were appropriate for the characters and lighting well plotted and executed. 

Musical Director David Meek chose well, making sure that every musical number was well within the capabilities of the cast.  

In true pantomime tradition, Nurse Nora’s kitchen scene had all the predictable jokes, mess and even an oven that exploded and the forest scene had the panto’ ghost which the children in the audience screamed at every time it appeared. 

This production was a step back in time when jokes were “in jokes” local to the village of Digswell, the audience both young and old shouted, booed and laughed together and when men played women and women played men. Thank you, Digswell, for a nostalgic evening’s entertainment.

Congratulations to you all.

Thank you for your hospitality.