Sherwood Forest Never Looked Better!
I love good theatre – I grew up in New York where there was never a dearth of quality shows to see. Boston’s theatre scene is on a much smaller scale, but one things we do have that’s high-quality is the American Repertory Theater. The shows being produced this season range from the story of LBJ’s first year as president to a production of ‘The Tempest’ with Teller doing magic. The current production, which I saw in preview, is ‘The Heart of Robin Hood.’
This play is a re-imagining of the legend of Robin Hood – I am not going to tell the story because I don’t want to spoil it for any of you who may see it. And see it you should!
Walking into the auditorium, I immediately felt like I was in a magical place. The first thing I noticed was the set, which is imaginative and looms over the first few rows of seats. The next thing I saw – or should I say heard – was Poor Old Shine, a roots group from Connecticut that is the stage band for the production.
Honestly, I wanted to see the show to hear Poor Old Shine as much as because the production could be headed to Broadway. Poor Old Shine is fabulous! As we entered the auditorium, they were playing from a recess at one corner of the stage. They serenaded us, and got us more in the mood for the play. During their fifteen-minute prelude, they played from all corners of the stage so everyone had the chance to see their faces.
In addition to performing music, they wrote most of it as well. Each member of the band is quite expressive – I don’t know if that is something they bring to their concerts or if it was part of the acting they did for this show. I can’t wait to see them again!
The staging of the play is awesome – in the true definition of the word, I was in awe! The set doesn’t change in the way many plays change sets although there are moving parts to it. The scenes range from the forest to the castle to a cathedral. There is nothing superfluous in the set – each unique part of it is well-used and used well.
The actors are all acrobats to some extent. There are cartwheels and leaping, rope-climbing and wall-climbing. All of it is magical and lots of fun to watch. The athleticism of the actors is fabulous. The men mostly wear only vests (in addition to pants, of course) which the women in the audience enjoyed immensely. I had to keep looking at Jordan Dean, who plays Robin Hood, to make sure his body was his own and not a costume (it was his own). The costuming works perfectly.
The play has many funny moments – one of my favorites came early in the play and involved the pond and the theme from ‘Jaws.’ There are some slightly naughty moments, but nothing that is inappropriate for a ten-year-old (which is the minimum age recommended by A.R.T.). And there are poignant moments. But mostly the play is pure fun.
I was surprised at how much I loved this show; great theatre can move me to tears, and I had tears in my eyes at the end. Every element – the acting, the staging, the music – worked perfectly for me. Get tickets soon because the limited run of the production will sell out quickly.
Posted on December 18, 2013, in theatre reviews, Uncategorized and tagged A.R.T., American Repertory Theatre, boston, Poor Old Shine, The Heart of Robin Hood, Theatre. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.
Having been to a couple of Poor Old Shine shows already, I can vouch that the liveliness they brought to the stage is a true representation of their “regular” shows… except they had much more room to move at the Loeb/ART theater. I went for the music, but I loved the stage design. Lots of silliness in the play, but I thought it was just restrained enough to avoid slapstick, and the storyline is well-crafted. There were a couple of awkward transitions that hopefully got worked out before the premier tonight, but nothing jarring or bad… just not as smooth and graceful as the rest of the performance. The cast is VERY athletic!
Since the purpose of previews is to work out any kinks before opening night, I wasn’t bothered by the one misstep I noticed.