Review of Buxton Drama League Panto, Red Riding Hood and her Merry Men at Burbage Institute
and live on Freeview channel 276
Staged at Burbage Institute, written by Elyse Marling, who also stars, directed by Jayne Marling, the production is slick and contains all the elements you might expect in a panto – oh yes it does!To tell too much would be a spoiler, but the forces of good are pitted against those of evil. Red goes to take food to her not so old and doddery Granny, but encounters Robin Hood and (perhaps non-existent) Merry Men. Meanwhile, the Sheriff of Nottingham has an evil plan to destroy the Merry Men, take over much of Derbyshire, and has a party to get to.The acting is great throughout, and it is lovely to see the enjoyment on the faces of these (mostly) young performers. We begin with Little John (Holly Howe) who sets the scene and regularly asks us if we are enjoying ourselves – she wouldn’t win any joke competitions though! Red herself is portrayed by the excellent Elyse Marling, who engages wonderfully with the audience. A mention (boooh!) must be made of Robbie Carnegie as the fiendish Sheriff, who soaks up the disapproval of the audience with great relish. The main love interest is the dashing Will Scarlett (Henty Hazelhurst), but there is also Robin (Peter Stubbington), who with his chishelled features is perhaps not the sharpest arrow in the quiver, or brave, but has an interesting relationship with raunchy Granny (Duncan Campbell). Oh, and there is a wolf with an unusual diet.The performance by the ensemble is also noteworthy, featuring singing, dancing and acrobatics! I very much enjoyed Alan a Dale’s (Izzie Cox) frustrated attempts at songs and the terrible bakery-related puns by Mitch (Faye Turtle). Further highlights for me were the dance at the party and the Sheriff’s various challenges.As you might hope, the puns come thick and fast, perhaps some of the best (?) featuring: intruder; trees; staffs; tennis; invisible swords. There is stuff here for the older children too. There are jokes about lawyers, bullies in government, and…someone raising taxes to fund a private party?