Silly season is upon us. Christmas decorations are up at the malls and everyone seems to be scrambling to end the year off properly and start their well-deserved break. One of my favourite end-of-year traditions has always been the pantomime and this year, as Janice Honeyman celebrates her 29th panto production, we get an epic retelling of the Robin Hood in Robin Hood and the Babes in the Wood which has just premiered at the Joburg Theatre.

The story is a candid tale of the Robin Hood story we know and love. In this production, Robin Hood, who lives in the forest with his Merry Men who live by the notion of stealing from the rich and giving to the poor. However, the city of Nottingham is plagued by Norman the Nasty, Sheriff of Nottingham, whose money-hungry ways plagues the citizens. The sherrif’s sister-in-law, Dame Emmarentia the Ugly, the step-mom to our local version of Hansel and Gretel, Tokkie and Tina, joins forces with the sherrif in a bid to take even more money from the citizens and make everyone even more miserable. However, it’s when Maid Marian catches the sherrif’s eye that Robin Hood and his band of men come to the rescue and bring happiness and peace back to Nottingham.

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When going to see the pantomime, it’s important to remember that it’s a light-hearted, comedic take on our favourite stories. As in previous years, Robin Hood and the Babes in the Wood is funny, charming and full of energy – one that will ensure that both kids and adults have a great time.

Every pantomime is held together by a narrator and this year, Kate Normington strung the story together as the Irish fairy Silly Sylviana – and absolutely shone. I loved everything about this character. Her costume, her flair, her energy. Everything worked. Janice and the team got this aspect of the panto spot-on and paved the way for the rest of the production.

This year’s cast was incredible and, the truth is, so many of them stood out. Carmen Pretorius wowed me again as Maid Marian. I loved how strong her character was and her vocals are absolutely out of this world. Another character I fell in love with was Desmond Dube’s Friar Tuck. We delve into the character’s back story a little here and he has an awesome local twist which really makes him stand out. Candida Mosoma plays Much the Miller’s son, a brave young boy that impresses Robin Hood and is ultimately invited to join his band of brothers. But, it was Graham Hopkins who really stole the show with his incredibly flamboyant portrayal of Norman the Nasty, Sheriff of Nottingham. I loved the character’s reference to Donald Trump and Graham’s brilliant crowd interaction and spectacular vocal performance made his performance that much more brilliant. It was Izak Davel’s performance of Robin Hood, however, that was disappointing. Izak is both an incredible actor and musician and has proved this on a number of occasions. However, I felt the character was incredibly stiff and Izak almost felt uncomfortable on stage. It was almost unfair to put him alongside theatre royalty such as Carmen who completely overshadowed his performance.

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Naturally, this year’s pantomime has an incredible script. From incredibly up-to-date political jokes (such as the Saxonwold Shebeen), a bit of product placement, catchy songs and a whole lot of action. The show is packed with energy, takes one on an emotional rollercoaster, is interactive and will keep your attention for the entire two and a half hours. The only thing I was really disappointed in was the fact that there was no sing-a-long this year. It’s the one thing that really helps the audience feel like they’re a part of the show and it’s something I know many audience members look forward to.

I must also make mention of the incredible sets which were constructed beautifully. A whole lot of time and effort was used to ensure that the sets helped the story come to life in the best way possible and the team did an incredible job to make this happen.

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Robin Hood and the Babes in the Wood is everything you would expect from a great pantomime and it’s another fantastic production from the team. The show runs until the 30th of December 2016 at the Joburg Theatre so make sure you get your tickets today before they’re completely sold out. Get your tickets here: www.joburgtheatre.com

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