World Stages: International Theater Festival: ‘The Adventures of Robin Hood’ at The Kennedy Center’s Family Theater

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FIVE STARS 82x15

The Adventures of Robin Hood Offers Cheeky, Intelligent Fun

How much fun can you have with a stage full of cardboard boxes, a shopping cart, bags of crisps, a reinvented legend, and two incredibly talented actors from Scotland? Visible Fictions Theatre Company answers that question with an updated and hilarious retelling of The Adventures of Robin Hood, now playing at The Kennedy Center’s World Stages International Theater Festival.

Photo by Neil Thomas Douglas.
Billy Mack and Martin McCormick. Photo by Neil Thomas Douglas.

The Adventures of Robin Hood is cheeky, intelligent fun, wonderfully imaginative and with a message that resonates at all levels from the youngest audience members to the oldest. Seldom have I spent a more enjoyable evening at the theater.

Director Douglas Irvine and author Oliver Emanuel have crafted an innovative piece, full of laughter, stage combat, and high octane energy. The Adventures of Robin Hood offers up a tale of light and shadows, of friendship and treachery, and of the conflict between the cruel and corrupt Sheriff of Nottingham and the thieving Robin Hood, who ultimately becomes a symbol of hope for the poor. At times this fast-paced show is reminiscent of Peter and the Starcatcher, creating a brilliant vivid world using a well-honed script, talented actors, minimal sets and props, and huge doses of imagination.

Two actors, Billy Mack and Martin McCormick, play every role in this hip retelling, from Robin Hood and the Sheriff of Nottingham to Maid Marian and all of the Merry Men. The chemistry between Mack and McCormick is dynamic and both convincingly play myriad characters, endowing them with distinct accents, nuances, and characteristics. Mack’s Little John, Marion, and Sheriff are three dimensional, fully-fleshed creations, both comic and moving. One of the comic highlights of the evening involves a battle with McCormick playing Robin Hood and his opponent, the Sheriff’s faithful wolf.

There are no trees and castles in this world designed by Co-Scenic Designers Douglas Irvine and Suzie Inglis. Instead, the audience contributes imagination to a world cleverly sketched by a set comprised of cardboard boxes. Mack and McCormick manipulate the boxes as they tell the story, turning them into castles, forests, gallows, and even the downtrodden poor. Kylie Langford’s costumes are minimal and modern, allowing the actors to tell the story unimpeded by unnecessary extras. Sergey Jakovsky’s lighting design helps move the story from setting to setting and the music by Danny Krass adds to the sassy feel of this new work.

Photo by Neil Thomas Douglas.
Photo by Neil Thomas Douglas.

The Adventures of Robin Hood offers a fast-paced and laughter-filled twist on a familiar classic. This five star Scottish import from Visible Fictions Theatre Company is definitely not to be missed.

Running Time: Approximately 60 minutes, without an intermission.

The Adventures of Robin Hood plays through April 6, 2014 at The Kennedy Center’s Family Theater– 2700 F St., NW, in Washington, DC. For tickets, call the box office at (202) 467-4600, or purchase them online.

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Diane Jackson Schnoor
Diane Jackson Schnoor is delighted to be back in the DC metro area after nearly two decades away. She earned her BA at The American University, with a minor in theatre arts, and holds a master's and doctorate in elementary education from the University of Virginia. A lifelong devotee of the arts, Diane's reviews and arts feature stories have been published in The Millbrook Independent and DC Metro Theatre Arts. As an actress, Diane has performed with the Cape Fear Regional Theatre, the Fort Bragg Playhouse, TriArts Sharon Playhouse, and in musicals and dance shows in Millbrook, NY, Amenia, NY, and Lakeville, CT. Her day job career has run the gamut from adjunct college faculty to preschool director to public relations director and back again, but her primary occupation these days is as chauffeur to the two young actresses who inhabit her home in Winchester, VA.