The world premiere of Young Robin Hood, written by Jon Klein, at Round House Theatre, is a multi-faceted show. At first look, the production, directed by Derek Goldman, seems to be a simple story of the ever-familiar legend of Robin Hood, but on deeper reflection, the show is something so much more – a swashbuckling adventure. It’s the story of the struggle between good and evil; between right and wrong, and the story of the vast disparity between the “haves” and the “have nots.” And it’s a coming of age story, full of comedy, love, and friendship.
Young Robin Hood tells the tale of a 16 year-old Robin Hood (Joe Isenberg), long before he becomes the legendary protector of the poor. When Robin and his friend Phillip (Davis Chandler Hasty) are summoned to compete for a position in the Sheriff of Nottingham’s (Mitchell Hebert) private guard, he rashly offends the Sheriff. In retaliation, the Sheriff and Phillip’s father, Guy (JJ Kaczynski) conspire to frame Robin’s father, William (Craig Wallace) for helping a destitute woman, Rosalind (Kimberly Schraf) and her two children, Much (Sean Silvia) and Joan (Allie Villarreal). William is imprisoned and sentenced to death by hanging. Robin, with the help of some unlikely friends — including Marian (Laura C. Harris), the rebellious and independent daughter of the Sheriff and her hawk, Diana (Emma Crane Jaster), and King Richard (Jeff Allin) — must fight injustice, defeat the Sheriff, bring Guy to justice, and rescue his father from a certain death.
Not only is the writing in Young Robin Hood able to engage audiences of all ages, much of its success is due to the stunning work by Scenic Designer Misha Kachman and Lighting Designer Kenton Yeager who have created a visually simple yet elegant set and beautiful lighting. Composer/Sound Designer Matthew M. Nielson’s audio elements add an additional level of complexity to the show. The sounds were so real, that at one point my friend asked “Is there a bird trapped in the building?” The fight scenes choreographed by Fight Choreographer Casey Kaleba are nail-bitingly exciting and kept me on the edge of my seat.
The talent on the stage is breathtaking. I was enthralled from start to finish. Isenberg as the young Robin, is the epitome of a rambunctious teenager questioning authority, questioning who he is, and trying to find his own place in the world. Harris (Marian) is so much more than the passive love interest of Robin Hood in the traditional legends. Laura C. Harris’ Marian is feisty, confident, and independent. She has an unwavering sense of what is wrong and what is right and is unafraid to stand up for what she believes in. I really enjoyed this reinterpretation of Marian. She is definitely someone who can be a great role model for young girls today. Hebert’s Sheriff of Nottingham is so witty and deliciously evil and endearing, and is someone you just love to hate. Jaster’s Diana the falcon, the Spirit of the Forest, and various other animals – is amazingly believable and true to life.
Young Robin Hood is an enchantingly creative, visually stunning story full of laughs, sword fights, acrobatics, love, and friendship. It’s the perfect holiday show for the entire family. It is not to be missed!
Running Time: Two hours, with a 15-minute intermission.
Young Robin Hood plays through December 30, 2012 at Round House Theatre – 4545 East West Highway, in Bethesda, MD. For tickets, purchase them online, by phone at (240) 644-1100, or in person at the box office.