Robin is a panto stalwart, but the Babes?! Panto writer and director Paul Johnson takes us through everything you need to know about this year's panto!
Robin Hood and the Babes in the Wood represents the merging of two separate English folk tales. Babes in the Wood is an old English ballad, first published in 1595. It is the tale of two children whose cruel uncle decides to do away with them. He employs two cut-throats to take the Babes into Wayland Woods (otherwise known as the Wailing Woods), to murder them.
However, the children’s innocence overwhelms the hardened criminals, so they decide to abandon them in the woods instead. Whether or not this is based on a true story, we don’t know for certain. However, we do know that Wayland Woods is in Norfolk, so they were living in a different county to Robin Hood and were born around two centuries later.
It’s Pantomime, though, so let’s not dwell on the cold, hard facts, and let’s assume that Robin Hood and his band have time-travelled for a couple of hundred years and that the Babes have moved to Nottinghamshire, where they are destined to meet the evil Sheriff of Nottingham, who is doing excellent business stealing money for taxes while King Richard is away fighting the Crusades.
The locals are represented by Dame Gertrude Golightly, and her nursery rhyme son, Simple Simon. These two appear to be the only locals, choosing as they do to live somewhere in the depths of Sherwood Forest. Arborea, the good queen of the forest, watches over the forest itself. She would lead a tranquil life, were it not for her nemesis Wisteria, the evil queen of the forest, whose intention is to cause trouble at every turn...
Intrigued? We know you are! Join us from 19-28 Jan to see how the merging of these classic tales plays out!