Shinfield Players present Robin HoodBy Caroline Cook
January 02, 2013
While most people were whistling a Christmas tune while carving the turkey last week, members of the Shinfield Players were reciting their lines.
The Merry Men pulled crackers while humming an old English ballad, and Robin Hood stole cranberry sauce from the rich and gave it to the poor.
The Shinfield Players spent their Christmas perfecting lines ready for their annual pantomime, which opens next week.
This year the society will be donning tights and feathered caps for the rip-roaring tale of Robin Hood.
“Local writer Matt Fillmore put the script forward and it had all the stuff you want from a panto – a great dame and two guards who are as ditzy as anything – and it fitted in well with the society,” explains director John Potter.
“There’s plenty of ‘oh no it isn’t’ and ‘oh yes it is’, and there are lots of bits for the kids and interaction with songs.”
Shinfield Players regular Gordon Bird will be stepping into the extravagant shoes of the Dame for the show, which promises plenty of laughs.
“Gordon is fantastic,” says John. “Whatever you throw at him he can do. He’s got that great interaction and he’s quick off the mark.
“He tried on his costume last week too. Like any part, when you get the costume you have completed your part and you start to feel it, especially with the Dame. She’s been going round with her high pitched voice, but with the costume it all makes sense. It’s the missing piece.”
The Shinfield Players have put their own twist on the classic tale of heroic outlaw Robin Hood, by introducing some female characters to the tale.
“As a story, there are lots of male characters so we have swapped some,” says John. “There will be a female Sheriff and a female guard to mix things up a bit.”
For John, the show will be his first pantomime in the director’s chair, having only directed plays and musicals in the past. But he says it is no less challenging than directing a serious drama.
“There’s a lot of thinking around panto that the actors can just blag it on the night, but it’s one of the performance types that has to be so polished,” he says.
“It’s so big on falls and slapstick that it needs to be perfect, everyone needs to know exactly where they’re going to fall.
“When you’re directing you need to remember it’s panto and think, ‘what are the kids going to want?’ and ‘would they get bored in this bit?’
“You’re always thinking and coming up with new ideas. A cast member might do something ridiculous and you are there going ‘keep that in, that’s what panto is all about’.”
Rehearsals for the show began back in October and John says the cast are eager to get the fun started on stage.
“Rehearsals are going amazingly,” he says. “We have been rehearsing since October 16, so it’s been a long period but it means we can block each scene and go into real depth to make sure the singing and dancing is polished.
“We gave everyone a week’s break over Christmas so they could enjoy time with their families and come back ready for a fresh start. We’ve got dress rehearsals and then we’re up.
“It’s been a busy time and I cannot wait to see it all come together.”
Robin Hood is at Shinfield Players Theatre in Whitley Wood Lane, Shinfield, from Friday, January 11, to Sunday, January 13, and Friday, January 18, to Sunday, January 20. Tickets are £8.
To book, call the box office on (0118) 975 8880 or visit www.shinfieldplayers.org.uk