Critics' Circle Review Robin Hood and the Babes in the Wood

Robin Hood and the Babes in the Wood

Once again, Kenneth Alan Taylor has dazzled audiences with magic, sparkle and glitter through his unique pantomime of Robin Hood and the Babes in the Wood. New and old faces appeared on the Nottingham Playhouse stage on Saturday night and gave a performance never to forget.

The musical director, John Morton, provided us with a range of songs from traditional to musicals to modern day pop songs but it kept each member of the audience happy throughout. Out of all the songs, however, I enjoyed “You’ll Be Back” from Hamilton due to my great love for the songs and the placement upon the stage. The choreography and the way Robin Kingsland portrayed his character kept a very comedic theme running through the song. Around me, I felt that other audience members felt the same due to their reactions and the buzz of laughter that floated around the theatre when the song was sung.

As per usual, there were the traditional Playhouse jokes such as “Nighty, Nighty; Pyjama, Pyjama” and “Like the dark place of Beeston” as well as the notable songs they are repeated so many times that the audience must join in. The joy is added to these when the audience know the puns and already have started asking for more before the song has started. However, I still don’t think this is what makes the night so magical.

After just under 15 years of seeing the Playhouse panto, I have always agreed upon the fact that the set is the most wonderful part of the evening. Every year the team in the paint shop create a huge, beautiful set full of glitter. It involves multiple different drop-ins and millions of props. Without this the panto wouldn’t be the same.

Overall, I thought the evening was very memorable and I really look forward to the glitz and glam of Sleeping Beauty next year!

By Hannah Spencer


Playful, priceless, perfect panto

The panto was brilliant. From the costumes, acting to the songs, the show was just perfection. The audience were all having a tremendous time and were involved in the play, by the use of audience participation.

The costumes were exceptional. There was glitter, glam, comedy and classic panto costumes. The dame’s variety of outfits was unbelievable. We were all sat in the audience just waiting to see what marvellous concoction of an outfit they came out in next.

There was one actor in particular I really loved. Adam Pettigrew who played Will Scarlet. His character was so relatable it made everyone laugh. His character made us feel connected to the play as the audience saw so much o there selves in him.

I also really enjoyed the song choices such as baby shark, however I feel as though some of the songs were not very well known. For example the duet between maid Marien and Robin Hood. I didn’t know the song which made it quite boring for me because I and my friend couldn’t sing along.
The chorus dancers were all remarkable although I did get upset that there was no tap dancing.

I feel as though the lady who played Tina really stole the show. She was extraordinary, she held her character all throughout the show and her dancing was flawless. She wasn’t a lead role but every time she came on I just feel myself smile. I would recommend this show to absolutely everybody. It’s perfect for all ages and everyone can enjoy the characters, laugh and good atmosphere of the Nottingham playhouse pantomime.

By Hanna Fletcher


While panto might not be my first choice to go and see at the theatre, Kenneth Alan Taylor’s Robin Hood and the Babes in the Wood was simply stunning. From the acting to the costumes to the singing and dancing it was simply fabulous.

All the actors and dancers knew exactly what they needed to do and preformed it all with a classic panto cheesy grin. The dances where perfectly in time and the quality of it was superb. The singing was also great with a lovely mixture of different songs from many different places; they really made you want to dance/clap long (which of course we did). All the children who played a role in it were extremely talented and did an amazing job with their characters.

The set that was used throughout the show was lovely, bright, colourful and simplistic. It worked really effectively with the story and type of show. My favourite part of the scenery was in Nurse Nelly Noggins’ room where they were playing “hide and seek”. The way the characters were so close to each other and they almost saw each other walk out the door was very funny and there was a lot of “he’s behind you”. The lighting was also good to very simplistic but effective.

As well as that, the costumes were great with many costume changes they whole cast did very well and the way they looked was great. Loads of glitter and silly outfits; just the way a pantomime should be. On top of that that the orchestra was amazing. They played a wide variety of tunes and between the four of them they played eighteen instruments which blew us all away.

The whole audience seemed to be having amazing night and were really getting into the spirit. Overall Robin Hood and the Babes in the Wood was very well rehearsed and was a real theatrical masterpiece.

By Naomi Thomas


Oh No, Not the Sheriff of Nottingham!

Having not seen a pantomime in almost 15 years, I was excited to see the Nottingham Playhouse’s annual pantomime. This year Robin Hood and the Babes in the Woods, written and directed by the brilliant Kenneth Alan Taylor, has graced us on the stage. For weeks leading up to the performance, all my local friends had been assuring me that there is nothing quite like seeing a Robin Hood Panto set in Nottingham and performed to local audiences. I could see within minutes of the play’s onset that they were not mistaken. Despite being new to the community I could feel that there was a feeling of familiarity, ease and solidarity in their pleasure which was evident from their hearty laughs at local jokes and the automatic response of ‘Oh No, Not the Sheriff of Nottingham!’
Designer Tim Meacock excelled himself with the elaborate, colourful and sparkly stage curtain and subsequent stage designs, including Sherwood Forest and Nottingham Castle, that again invited familiarity whilst adding an enormous amount of decadence inherent in pantomimes. The inclusion of a makeshift version of the Nottingham City Transport and the jokes surrounding it meant that the Panto became the Panto of the people, instead of being just a classic, goodtime entertainment about an iconic British figure.

Alongside the set was the top-notch singing and dancing; from the contemporary favourite ‘Baby Shark’ to a Queen medley between the Sheriff and Nurse Nelly which brought the house down whilst it developed into a twenty minute encore for ‘Radio Ga Ga’. Musical Director John Morton should receive nothing but the highest praise – he made a timeless Panto relevant and contemporary even to the youngest member of the audience whilst maintaining an energized and quick tempo that mirrored the musicality of the dance sequences. These moments were perfectly timed and enhanced the tongue and cheek of the story, encapsulating the merriment and fun we expect from the play.

Special mention must go to John Elkington, whose superb portrayal of Nurse Nelly Noggins left me searching for gasps of breath between laughs. It was a privilege to witness the Dame’s adlibs that left the audience speechless and waiting, almost expecting for something, anything unusual to happen. On this note we weren’t disappointed – during the unforgettable ‘Radio Ga Ga’ scene, Dame Nelly came into the audience and forced one member in the front row who was not participating to come up on stage to demonstrate the actions.

This production was the perfect way to start my countdown to Christmas. With many of the audience members knowing each other it felt like a seasonal gathering and celebration, especially when the two young babes came on as the auditorium erupted in support and encouragement. The dance and music made it feel like a rejuvenated production that had you booing and cheering louder and with more conviction. It really is the perfect way to have a good time for both adults and children alike.

By Jade Braham


Is Robin Hood And The Babes In The Wood a good pantomime?

Oh yes it is! Personally, I loved the Robin Hood pantomime mainly because it had the story line of why Robin Hood was outlawed and not just starting at the fact that he “robbed the rich and helped the poor!”. This is what the director, Kenneth Alan Taylor, wanted to do as it made the pantomime more interesting and different and fun compared to all the other Robin Hood plays out there.

I have always gone to pantomimes with every chance I got because they are really amazing and they always have a great atmosphere. Pantomimes are great for people because they really are for everyone, at all ages whether you are 3 or 103 you still enjoy it; the corny jokes and the extravagant outfits in which they dame normally wears in each scene.

It makes December feel like Christmas. For me, it isn’t really Christmas without a pantomime full of laughing, cheering and dancing. Even getting water sprayed into the audience, which is always fun. I know that it takes a long time for a pantomime to be ready as I had work experience at the Nottingham Playhouse, in July, and there was already parts being cast and sets being designed and painted and costumes being sown ready for the much later on dress rehearsals. Every prop, every piece of set and every costume has all been painted and designed and pieced together by the amazing people at Nottingham Playhouse. Knowing this, I appreciate plays a lot more.

Honestly if you asked me to pick out any bad things in this particular pantomime, I couldn’t. It was funny and enjoyable. This is a play I would 100% recommend to see, by yourself or with family and friends. Pantomimes, like this one have everything Drama, comedy, action, they acknowledge the audience and involve them which is actually really funny which you don’t get that with other plays. As a Critics Circle member I was lucky enough to talk to Kenneth Alan Taylor and he told us about how he loved writing and directing pantomimes, with squeaky clean jokes for everyone to enjoy and the amazing people whom he works with who take part in the pantomimes year after year. This play is definitely the most glittery and happiest play this year, everyone likes bit of shine and sparkle.

My favorite piece of the pantomime was definitely in act two with the slow motion, slapstick scene as it was funny, classic panto comedy. I really did find this one of my favorite plays of the year.

By Abbie James