Review: Oddsocks - The Adventures of Robin Hood, Derby Guildhall, by Paul Hindle
JUST when you thought the panto season was over for another year, along come the Oddsocks with this thigh-slapping, innuendo-laden evening full of laughs.
The Adventures of Robin Hood is a couple of hours of thoroughly entertaining knockabout farce, with ludicrous codpieces, mullet wigs and plenty of panto ‘booos’ and ‘oooos’ from a willing audience.
This 50th touring show from the Derby company deviates slightly from their norm – where they stick pretty faithfully to classic texts but draw out humour you never knew was there.
Penned by Oddsocks co-creator Andy Barrow, who will have had no definitive text to draw from, this production was loosely based on the traditional legend, with a modern-day script.
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And with themes of the rich getting richer while the poor suffer, there was plenty of mileage in topical humour and it was not too long before the phrase “We’re all in it together” was trotted out.
Barrow, as always, took on the role of the menacing villain, this time the Sheriff, who referred to the audience as plebs, only to later deny using the word.
Oddsocks favourites Kevin Kemp, Derby’s own Joseph Maudsley and Andrew McGillan all form part of the on-stage team, along with newcomer Louisa Farrant, who slots in like a company veteran.
Kemp’s ludicrous Obadiah the Prisoner, with his ill-timed and inappropriate asides, are a highlight, as are McGillan’s spectacular acrobatics and Justin Lee Collins-esque Friar Tuck.
In traditional Oddsocks fashion, it’s hard to spot where the script ends and the ad libs begin and there’s much humour to be had from the rickety yet effective set, which is regularly changed in an always amusingly intrusive way by the cast.
Clever wordplays (including a groan-inducing misunderstanding of the meaning of animal husbandry), energetic swordfight sequences and live music all add up to a varied and fast-paced programme.
In the relentless gloom of January, it was just the trick to raise the spirits, and I’m sure most of last night’s satisfied audience can’t wait to dig out their picnic mats for the Oddsocks outdoor summer season.
The show continues tonight and tomorrow at the Guildhall Theatre (7.30pm). More details from www.derbylive.co.uk or telephone 01332 255800.