It is panto season and the Mayflower Theatre in Southampton haven't let us down with their fun showing of Robin Hood starring Eastenders favourites Shane Richie and Jessie Wallace. A bunch of the amazing Southampton Bloggers were invited to get festive and shout the panto classics.
As I mentioned in a previous article about Mayflower, I have always loved this theatre. It has a lovely atmosphere and a clear passion for the performing arts. With so many shows on throughout the year it is easy to be spoilt for choice.
ROBIN HOOD PLOT
Robin Hood is determined to win the heart of the beautiful Maid Marion but he must first save her from the capture of the malicious Sheriff of Nottingham. He summons his Merry Men to use questionable tactics to save her from this imprisonment.
Having said that, as with any panto, take the plot with a pinch of salt. They have a tenancy to go off course for entertainment sake.
Yup you read that right. In a show, on stage, with real people, we were handed 3D glasses. I did wondered how I would need them to make this seem more realistic. It turns out in the second half there is a 3D segment on a screen which is truly amazing. The audience are taken on a thrilling trek through a dark forest where only the grimmest of creatures live. This creepy addition to the panto will have you holding the hand of the person next to you whilst wishing you had a spare pair of pants.
All good pantomimes need slapstick for children and secret filthy jokes that only adults understand. This show certainly does that. With the leading role played by Alfie, I mean Shane Richie, it was always going to be a cheeky little number. There are a fair amount of innuendos which personally I love...but I am that kind of girl haha!
There are a heck of a lot of references to Eastenders. I don't watch soaps anymore so it feels a little too much for me. However. There is an act which boasts about its references to Albert Square in clever puns, and because of its ingenious use of character names I have to forgive how bias it is to a soap I don't watch. Luckily they use characters I recognise.
"I had a cut so I had to Dot Cotton on it". I would happily sit through this act again! Bravo writers, bravo.
If you love pantos but hate soaps, I wouldn't let this put you off.
HOW DID HE DO THAT?
The show is full of illusions and not least this comes from illusionist Phil Hitchcock as Merlin. He creates a lot of 'wow' moments and uses comedy to make the tricks very entertaining.
A lot of the characters stand out but I have to start with Shane Richie because he really makes the show what it is. His sense of humour is fantastic. This is him as a Ghostbuster (do you remember what I said about going off track from the traditional story?)
By his side is Jessie Wallace and damn that girl can sing! I had no idea her voice is so impressive. '5 gold rings' is sung like a lung busting diva.
Talking of incredible vocal cords, it brings me onto Ashleigh Gray who plays the Spirit of Sherwood. It really is no surprise that she has played Elphaba in Wicked on the West End. Her voice is beautiful. In fact, look at her, she seems beautiful in every which way.
Pete Gallagher plays the evil Sheriff of Nottingham. Sometimes I feel like the bad guys are written in an incredibly cheesy way but I really like this character. He may be my favourite. I'm not sure what that says about me.
Peter Piper plays Friar Tuck and does an impression of David Attenborough. I can't quite explain how brilliant it is. If I had a hat on I would take it off. I'm laughing just thinking about it now.
It is completely ridiculous...and that is why it is a great panto.
There is clearly a lot of effort put into this show so it is credit to everyone involved to say that it feel extremely natural. It is almost as though you are watching friends messing around on the stage. Throughout the show there are a lot of mini stunts and calculated slip-ups that keep you on your toes. Full of acrobatics, magic, audience interaction and tons of panto classics, this show is packed with enough to mesmerise children.
If I could give any criticism, I would say to make The Nurse more eccentric. Jeffery Holland plays the part fantastically but I feel like the costumes let him down. I normally get starry eyed at the pantomime dames in their flamboyant, fun outfits but these felt less fabulous. Many of the other characters are in fantastic outfits so it stands out more to me.
Thank you to Mayflower Theatre for your fantastic hospitality on this press night. The food and drink was delicious but most of all I appreciated your words of affection during the interval. Your passion for the Mayflower is lovely to see.
The show is on until Sunday 8th January 2017 so there is plenty of time to get a seat from the Box Office at Mayflower Theatre.
OK, so in true panto style; if you liked this blog I've been Gemma; please share. If you haven't liked it then I've been Zoella 😀
Photo credit: Mayflower Theatre
Honest review: Mayflower Theatre gifted me with the opportunity to review this production. This has absolutely no influence on my opinions made in this post.
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