Robin Hood destroyed by Melly Smith and Carl Rose

“Anything is better than a king with a mind of his own”


Paul Hunter as the King and Alex Mugaioni as Baldwin. (Photo: Pamela Raith)

Is the woodland setting of Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre, the place to put on experimental and iconoclastic theatre?  Maybe but not on the back of England’s most cherished legend of Robin Hood.  Ignoring 1938 Errol Flynn and 1955 Richard Greene, there was much loved Michael Praed as Robin of Loxley in Robin of Sherwood (1984-5) and Kevin Costner in the wildly romantic Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves  (1991).  That last movie had Bryan Adam’s “Everything I Do, I Do It for You” and the late Alan Rickman’s Sheriff’s threats with a spoon.  1989 to 1994 saw the wonderful Kate Lonergan as Maid Marian, leader of the Merry Men while Robin wasn’t up to the fight.  

I should have smelled a rat when I discovered Carl Grose the writer was deputy artistic director of Kneehigh, a company which for me has missed the target more often than hitting it.  His past productions have included Dead Dog in a Suitcase and 49 Donkeys Hanged, their titles sounding not like plays I want to expose my grandchildren to.  

The King here is not Richard the Lionheart fighting the Crusades with Blondel the musician, nor Bad King John but Paul Hunter in nightshirt stuck in a cage high up in the metal trees of Sherwood Forest.  He is the captive of Baldwyn (Alex Mugnaioni) the supposed sheriff whose wife Marian (Ellen Robertson) is the ace archer.  Some of the roles are cross gender, for instance Little Joan and Mary Tuck.  

Elexi Walker as Mary Tiuck (Photo: Pamela Raith)

Is this story bonkers or incomprehensible?  It is both but not in a good way.  Baldwin collects the fingers of suspected archers and keeps them in a box.  The head is cut off Gisburne and rolls along the stage.  I found Ira Mandela Siobhan’s looks as Gisburne arresting but he is a very nasty character.  Nandi Bhebhe is the Balladeer.  I did admire the trick of making arrows land without endangering the crowd.  

We know that real life in medieval times was hard for the poor and that Robin Hood was myth rather than reality but I do question the resources spent on such a lack lustre production which will neither thrill children nor adults.  The finale is well lit using the revolve with real fire.  

Be grateful Theatrevibe doesn’t award stars! 

Cast (Photo: Pamela Raith)

Production Notes

Robin Hood. The Legend. Re=written.

Written by Carl Grose

Composer and Lyricist: Jenny Moore

Directed by Melly Still



Alex Mugnaioni

Charlotte Beaumont

Dave Fishley

Elexi Walker

Ellen Robertson

Ira Mandela Siobhan

Katherine Manners

Nandi Bhebhe

Simon Oskarsson

TJ Holmes

Paul Hunter

Taya Ming

Amena Alicia El-Kindy

Stephanie Marion Fayerman

Samuel Gosrani

Shaun Yusuf McKee

Marta Miranda

Dumile Lindiwe Sibanda


Director: Melly Still

Set Designer:  Chiara Stephenson

Costume Designer: Samuel Wyer

Composer:  Jenny Moore

Movement Design: Mike Ashcroft

Lighting Designer: Zoe Spurr

Sound Designer: Emma Laxton

Musical Director: Joely Cragg


Running Time: Two hours 20 minutes with an interval

Booking to 22nd July 2024



Open Air Theatre

Regent’s Park

Inner Circle

London NW1 4NU

Phone: 0333 400 3562


Tube: Baker Street

Reviewed by Lizzie Loveridge

at the Open Air

on 23rd June 2023