Above photo: Robert Shores, Ariana Stephens, Carlos Brumfield | Photo by Mike Morgan Photography ~ Play by Ken Ludwig | Directed by Andi Allen ~
My thoughts on Sherwood or these slings and arrows are our good fortune.
The poor people of England are in a jam. They are being oppressed and taxed to death by the wicked Prince John, who has taken the throne in the absence of King Richard the Lionheart. Who will emerge to right the wrongs? None other than that swashbuckler Robin Hood, the hero of Ken Ludwig’s Sherwood, a farce with a heart.
Director/Sound Designer Andi Allen has created a terrific medieval tale filled with enough thrilling sword fights to fill an Errol Flynn movie. Special kudos to fight choreographer Adam Kullman who staged the battles and has the characters running, jumping, and tumbling all over scenic designer Wendy Searcy-Woode’s handsome birch tree bedecked multi-level set. Mia Lindemann’s mood-evoking lighting design facilitates scene transitions and highlights the marvelous period costumes designed by Michael Robinson. The set design of Sherwood provides the perfect playground for the talented troupe of actors.
Friar Tuck, played by Kenny Green, is our host for the evening. Green’s Tuck is a rather worldly man of the cloth with a sly twinkle in his eye and an engaging narrator and character. Nicholas Ducote is a delight as Little John, one of the most famous of Robin Hood’s band of Merry Men. Ducote gives Little John a lovable quality and is quite adept at physical comedy.
Little John’s love interest is Deorwynn, played with feisty fun by Calista Hoyer. Hoyer’s Deorwynn is strong, sassy, and determined. Nathan Willard plays the Sheriff of Nottingham as goofy and almost inept. His Sheriff would fit right in with Monty Python, and Willard gets many laughs as he fumbles in his obsequious attempts to please the villainous Sir Guy of Gisborne played by Robert Shores. Shores makes Gisborne the perfect nemesis for Robin Hood. He seems to enjoy inflicting his wicked “justice” on the poor. He plays Gisborne to the hilt, rarely cracking a smile. His stance even says villainy! Josh Radde is an audience favorite as the Shakespeare spouting Prince John. Radde brings just the right amount of camp to the character, making Prince John hilarious, but stopping just short of going over the top. Radde is a gifted comedian.
The luminous Ariana Stephens plays Maid Marian as a 12th-century feminist. Stephens is a wonder to watch. She looks like she stepped out of a Renaissance portrait of some regal woman. Her Marian is strong-willed and every bit equal to Robin Hood. The skillful Stephens simultaneously projects strength and tenderness, and has a tremendous rapport with Robin, making their love scenes completely convincing.
As our hero Robin, Carlos Brumfield is, in a word, fantastic. Brumfield has an enormously appealing stage presence and commands our attention, whether he is running about the stage wielding a sword or sharing a quiet moment with Marian. His Robin has all the bravado you would expect, but his eyes sometimes suggest a bit of vulnerability, giving the legendary character a humanity that makes him even more admirable. Brumfield handles the comedy, fighting, and romance with aplomb and makes his Robin a true hero indeed.
Sherwood is hilarious, romantic, and exciting. Come on out and watch the swords clash, and the arrows and jokes fly.
By the time this review posts – I must admit I have seen Sherwood again. It is a fun play — I promise!
Where: MainStage Irving-Las Colinas | 3333 N. MacArthur Blvd., Irving
When: Now – Saturday, March 26
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