The Heart Of Robin Hood is one of the finest shows of the Christmas season.
Heck, in all likelihood it’s the best show – a real Crimbo cracker.
The sets are imaginative. (Steep grass slide for performers to zip down; pond filled with water; high branches.) The acting’s exemplary and energetic. (Muscular young blokes, with jaws as square as Mike Read’s record collection, dangling from ropes. A feisty heroin exhibiting a crafty comic touch.)
There’s just one itsy-bitsy problem. I’m not quite sure it’s family entertainment.
And Christmas should be about the kids.
Robin Hood is marketed by the RSC as suitable for seven-year-olds. And when I informed the play’s author, David Farr, that I was planning to take my six-year-old son, Ben, he envisioned no problems. And, to be fair, Ben was fine. Though probably because he didn’t quite understand everything that was happening on stage.
However, a slightly older girl, two rows down from us, insisted that her mother take her promptly from the theatre. I heard another child wailing.
Here’s my top five moments of shock, shiver and ouch from The Heart Of Robin Hood.
1) An elderly aristocrat has his tongue torn out.
2) A holy man’s head is lopped off.
3) Another aristocrat returns from the Crusades and promptly starts swearing like a trooper.
4) Sherwood resident makes explicit remark about the sexual act.
5) Two youngsters are forced to watch their father being hanged.
It’s juicy drama, alright. With enough grit, gore and golly gosh for even the grungiest of teens and adults to relish.
But shouldn’t kids be left with at least an iota of innocence? C’mon now, folks – just a smidgen?
I know this is the era of Philip Pullman wrestling with God in the guise of kids’ lit, and Harry Potter movie ikons staggering out of trendy bars.
Yet, I’d still like to see just a bit more fluffy-wuffy fairy tale fun in my Christmas theatre.
However, I must reiterate that The Heart Of Robin Hood is a scarily good show.
Though your kids may decide it’s just scary.
Until January 7