How to encapsulate Robin Hood: Tights in White Satin in a sentence? Tricky, but it would be something like: this is what happens when a six-year-old with an impressive record collection and a precocious knack for innuendo has a fever dream while fulfilling a classroom edict to ‘imagine what happened next’ in Sherwood Forest.
The resulting stream of consciousness has Robin and Marion, the Everyman panto’s comedic stalwart Adam Keast and his newer but equally delightful Dame of a sidekick Mathew Quinn, in some kind of witness protection programme as Gilbert and Josie Jingles, after a battle in which a magical arrow has become embedded in a rock and Darthia De Foe (Jessica Dives), the witch-like sister of King John, is trying to take over the world and…never mind. The plot, as ever with the Everyman’s much-loved annual Christmas rock ‘n’roll panto, is entirely nonsensical and beside the point.
Amid cameos from rainbow-clad cowgirls, Herman the Merman, flowerpot men and the extremely funny Rupert the Heir (a feckless toff in checked yellow trousers), Hood’s daughter Scarlet Jingles (Stephanie Hockley) and Little John’s son Long (Peter Mooney) are on a mission with some over-sparkled fairies to rescue John from Elton, which I think is some kind of remote island. Their adventures take in the Wild West, a psychedelic apothecary and…no really, never mind.
In front of a cheering audience who for the most part hadn’t even bothered to bring children as an excuse, the performers tried gamely to stifle their own chuckles as they rattled through a series of barely inter-connected set pieces, most designed to facilitate the rendition of a classic tune. On Elton, John won’t kneel before the villain De Foe. Have you guessed where we’re going here? (I’m Still Standing, in case not). And so on.
Every member of the 10-strong cast puts in a shift with personality and enthusiasm. Jamie Noar no doubt had his hands full as musical director and worked his socks off in the on-stage band, though greedily it would have been nice also to get more of his smarmy bit part Marlon the Wizard, who was a particular smash with the young children in our party. Regular writers Sarah A Nixon and Mark Chatterton skilfully turned in exactly what was expected of them, which was a sufficiently different iteration of exactly the same thing.
Repeat rock ‘n’roll panto attendees, which surely encompasses the majority of the audience, embraced the chaos with open arms and stomping feet. It was unclear as to whether Gimme Some Lovin’ by the Spencer Davis Group was chosen as an encore because of its lyric “so glad we made it”, but after a year’s absence and with the pandemic far from over, there was a palpable sense, during this evening of bonkers, uncomplicated, big-hearted communal fun, of this sentiment being true.
Main image: Adam Keast and Stephanie Hockley in Robin Hood Photo © Robert Day.
Robin Hood: Tights in White Satin is at the Everyman Liverpool until January 15, 2022. For more information, or to book tickets, click here.