Robin Hood is full of slapstick humour, playing at the Papermill Theatre in Toronto
Robin Hood by Amicus Productions is currently playing at the Papermill Theatre. I have seen the tale of Robin Hood done in various ways. I’ve seen action versions of the story, comedies, and even an animated version with a dashing fox. I was excited to see a brand new twist on the man who steals from the rich and gives to the poor.
This Robin Hood, written by Don Nigro and directed by Chris Coculuzzi, began with two young minstrels standing in front of the curtain.Their song transported us to the Sherwood Forest. The tone was sad, as if Robin Hood was a tragic hero from long ago, and they were the bards who kept his legend going. I was surprised to see once the actors on stage started speaking that the tone wasn’t serious at all. The play had immediately switched into a comedy.
The comedy is where I felt a disconnect. I find I’m a silly person, but most of the jokes were not for me. There was an abundance of jokes about flatulence, which was more disappointing than anything. What bothered me the most was the persistent jokes about rape. The term in the play is ‘ravaging’, which sounds less taboo than the real meaning. They were written and delivered with such flippancy that I cringed a little. Even a joke about farts is better than that.
The most effective parts of the play are more clever than the slapstick and lowbrow humour. The play defies expectation, not conceding to a completely happy ending. The resolutions are frustrating for the characters, but more satisfying for the audience, because it doesn’t wash away all the problems in one act.
The messages that the play conveys are delivered full-heartedly. The rich create a system to purposely take advantage of the vulnerability of the poor. The environment is an important and natural resource that requires protecting. Heroes are worshipped because they are needed, not because they are perfect.
Adam Brooks as Robin Hood fills the role perfectly. He is smarmy and cocky when the scene calls for it yet complicated and broody when confronting his demons. Although it is hard to imagine a grown man wearing tights and a pointed hat, he made the role look natural. He made me believe that Robin Hood has a softer side, and he even made me enjoy it more than his bold heroic side.
If you like slapstick humour, you will enjoy the comedic side of the play. If you’re like me, and that’s not your taste, I would still recommend seeing it for the more serious content. The fleshed out version of the character is worth watching and the messages he talks about are worth hearing. Those are the two things that stayed with me, once the curtain closed.
- Robin Hood is playing at the Papermill Theatre (67 Pottery Road) until November 21.
- Final show time is at 8:00 pm.
- Tickets are $22 regular price and $20 for seniors/students. Tickets can be purchased online or by phone at 416-860-6176.
Photo of Celeste Van Vroenhoven and Adam Brooks by David Fitzpatrick