Theatre Review: Weans in the Wood is a festive treat for all ages

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(Image from the Macrobert Arts’s Centre)


The Macrobert Arts Centre’s annual panto is back in town, and what a glittering all singing, all dancing extravaganza it is.

Written by Johnny McKnight, this year’s story known as Weans in the Wood, is an interesting and abstract mix of various fairy tale narratives and nursery rhyme tales.

It all begins in the deep dark wood where the evil Sheriffina Nottingham (Helen McAlpine) plots to use her black magic to steal all the good magic from the privileged part of town and unleash her evil rule.

Now, at the same time, Magic Merlina (Mark McDonnell) is running her school of magic where her sprightly daughter Gretel (Katie Barnett) and her adopted child Hans-No-Solo (Robert Jack) live and learn on the good side of town.

But suddenly, a very scary and oh-so-confident young girl enters stage left with her bow and arrow and a mission to rob the rich to feed the poor. It’s Little Red (Dawn Sievewright), and she’s come to grab all the food and goodies she can, so she can provide for her dependent forest friends.


(Image from the Macrobert Arts Centre)


However, when Little Red finds Merlina’s magic wand, she accidentally freezes everyone in the school and in awe of this new toy, runs off to show her pals. But when Sheriffina stumbles in on the group of statues, she takes her chance and steals the sacred power source that charges Merlina’s wand and allows good magic to prevail.

So, with the pantosphere in trouble, Merlina, Gretel and Hans have no choice but to go into the heart of the perilous forest to rescue their magic and stop Sherriffina from hatching her wicked plan.

Anyway, I won’t give the whole story away, but let’s just say tricks are played, songs are belted out, jokes are made at the surrounding community’s expense, a Pokémon makes an uncredited appearance, and of course, a poor, unsuspecting audience member has their fair share of bumps in the night.

As always, the panto was a gorgeous concoction of cheeky fun and eccentric entertainment. With a strong balance of narrative, catchy contemporary songs, finely choreographed dance routines, well-timed jokes and dazzling costumes, Weans in the Wood is a fully fledged festive treat.

The experienced cast gave a spectacular performance, with Robert Jack and Dawn Sievewright dominating the well-earned spotlight in each scene.  Mark McDonnel, Helen McAlpine, Katie Barnett and James Rottger who plays the handsome Prince Ronaldo and the Big Bad Wolf, all brought their own wonderful energy and comedic style to the show and gave it the spirited pizzazz a pantomime needs to live and breathe.

So, all in all, Weans in the Wood has yet again proved that Macrobert’s panto is a must see event for all the family at Christmas and with songs, jokes and naughty innuendo, there will be plenty of laughs to cheer everyone this winter.

Weans in the Wood will be running until December 31, for booking information, go to: http://macrobertartscentre.org/event/weans-in-the-woods/.


(Image from the Macrobert Arts Centre)




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