The Robin Hood Caper
Review by Kelly J Clark – Showbill.ca Writer
When a corrupt mayor threatens to close down the local paper and run its honest owner out of their small Wisconsin town it’s up to an aged A-Team to take him down and win the day. That’s the premise of The Robin Hood Caper, a play written by Fred Carmichael in 1963 and performed by St. Luke’s Players community theatre for their 2016-17 season.
It takes a lot of faith to perform such a dated script without major updates, but the leap pays off. The Robin Hood Caper’s set and costumes are cheeky reflections of 1960s sitcoms that lend authenticity to the script and cast, which performs it all with a wonderfully campy panache. However, the quality of the performances is something of a mixed bag. Thankfully, though many of the cast are new to St. Luke’s stage, but thanks to the talents of De Roger as Flora Langley, an elderly aunt do-gooder, the production remains firmly grounded. At any time another actor’s performance goes a bit wild or a bit off kilter, Roger’s performance pulls the scene back into focus.
Of the ensemble cast, all perform admirably, but there is something about Malcolm Harvey’s performance as Philip Mullins that feels ineffably familiar. His soft spoken, overly-agreeable yet canny demeanour is atavistic of so many similar roles played by iconic actors like Dick Van Dyke that you can’t help but want the script to give him more to do.
Bill Tolson’s reverend Jason Bosley is also quite solid, but someone needs to teach him how to do a Texas accent for one noteworthy bit that, while small, throws his entire backstory into doubt. Newcomer Selenne Hough’s is a talented dancer and it shows through her character’s perfectly petulant physicality, and though she handles her first theatrical role well she sometimes feels like she’s saying her lines rather than feeling them.
However, The Robin Hood Caper’s main problem is that its cast’s comedic chemistry isn’t quite meshed. The difference in comedic stylings between the actors at times it feels like several different eras of sitcom being played simultaneously. One wonders if having two directors may have led to this disharmony of yuks. But is this a matter of too many cooks? It’s hard to say, really, because the physical blocking and timing of most of the jokes and one liners hit. Maybe it was first night jitters.
The Bottom Line
The Robin Hood Caper is a fun community theatre romp that will give you flashbacks of 1960s sitcoms. It’s not perfect, but neither were those shows and yet we still loved them. Now go out and support your local theatre.