Regional Reviews: San Diego
Also see David's review of Ordinary Days
Part of the reason for the happy ending is a cast that's bold but light on its feet, in director Jessica Stone's fast-moving production. The tight-knit eight-person company features four actors who have performed at the Globe and four who are making their debuts with the company.
The four who have Globe experience have done stellar work in the past. Manoel Felciano and Kevin Cahoon each received Craig Noel Award nominations for their work in summer Shakespeare productions. Suzelle Palacios, an MFA student in the Globe/University of San Diego classical acting program, just concluded a run with the expert ensemble of King Richard II. And, Andy Grotelueschen recently played the title character in The Imaginary Invalid with his home-base company, Fiasco.
The newcomers prove their mettle, too: Daniel Reece as a dashing Robin Hood, Michael Boatman as the Shakespeare-quoting King John (yes, I know: the play is set centuries before Shakespeare was on the scene), Meredith Garretson as a torn but intrepid Maid Marian, and Paul Whitty, looming large as John Little, aka Little John.
The story doesn't matter muchMr. Ludwig has crafted together a tale made from situations created by everyone from balladeers to TV writers. It involves evil Prince John coopting the throne of King Richard the Lionhearted and imposing high taxes on the poor and working class to pay for his pet projects (such as a wall that the characters have to climb at one point well, sort of. There's a "perspective change" implemented in the middle of the climb that turns it into more of a crawl).
Meanwhile, Robin Hood is figuring out ways to defeat the wealthy and powerful so he can feed, clothe, and house those self-same poor and working-class folk. This show's values are definitely worn on its sleeve.
Speaking of sleeves, there are arrows, lots of them tucked into sleeves. And, whoever designed and constructed the trick bows that are used to "shoot" them deserves a prizemaybe the golden arrow that goes to the winner of the shooting contest in act two. It's all done in good fun, of course, though I must say the little girl who was queried at the top of the show looked pretty frightened when one of the characters fell over near her with an arrow sticking out of his chest (she looked relieved when he got up and walked away at the end of the scene).
Yes, the little girl was right, there is a happy ending, and even the Shakespeare references figure in to making it so.
Mr. Ludwig is experienced at creating these sorts of entertainments (the Old Globe produced his Sherlock Holmes play, Baskerville, two years ago). They're clearly aimed at being diversions for audiences, and they accomplish their goals in a stylish manner.
The Old Globe's production of Ken Ludwig's Robin Hood! runs through September 3, 2017. Performances are Tuesday and Wednesday at 7:00 p.m., Thursday and Friday at 8:00 p.m., Saturday at 2:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m., and Sunday at 2:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. in San Diego's Balboa Park. The run time is two hours, including one intermission. Tickets are available by calling (619) 23-GLOBE [234-5623], or by visiting https://www.theoldglobe.org.
Credits not mentioned in the review are Tim Mackabee (Scenic Design), Gregg Barnes (Costume Design), Jason Lyons (Lighting Design), Fitz Patton (Original Music and Sound Design), Jacob Grigolia-Rosenbaum (Fight Director), and David Huber (Vocal Coach).