Robbing the rich to give to the poor is the topical theme of this year’s panto Robin Hood and the Babes in the Wood, opening at The Mowlem in Swanage.
Possibly more relevant than intended amidst a cost of living crisis, the cast have enjoyed rehearsing the panto and adding in a few up to date jokes, which opens for six performances from Friday 13th January 2023.
Brian Travers in the director’s chair
“Back with a bigger cast”
Stepping behind the scenes this year is Brian Travers, well known for his extraordinary pantomime performances over the years playing the dame, this time he is in the director’s chair.
“It’s nice to be back with a bigger cast. For the last few years we’ve had to severely limit the numbers due to Covid, with only a certain number of people allowed to rehearse at any one time. This year we’ve all been able to be in the same room at the same time which is much easier.”
The three babes with the Sheriff of Nottingham
Rehersals at The Mowlem. Left to right: Maid Marion played by Holly Gate, George played by Anthony, Charlotte played by Ava and Louis played by James
Third time in 25 years
This is the third time over the last 25 years that Robin Hood and the Babes in the Wood has been performed by Swanage Drama Company and its predecessor the Purbeck Players.
There’s eight pantos that are performed in turn over a period of eight years with the original scripts dusted down and given a fresh lease of life each time. This creates a firm foundation each year for a cracking show that’s been tried and tested. Next year it will be Cinderella.
The Sheriff of Nottingham with Tik and Tok
Ready for curtain up on Friday. Left to right: The Sheriff of Nottingham played by Robert Diment Davies, Tok playes by Ro Smith and Tik played by Becky Stares
While it’s purely coincidental that this year it’s Robin Hood, the timing has been perfect to come up with some new lines in the panto about the dire state of the economy. Brian continued:
“Occasionally this can happen and it’s easy to adapt the script, although we’re not generally known for our good jokes! We practise the lines in rehearsal and if we find it funny enough it sticks and we keep the joke in.”
Maid Marion and Robin Hood
Maid Marion played by Holly Gate and Robin Hood played by Jeanne Lejeune
“Pointing the finger”
Brian says he’s happy to be directing and not performing this year. He’s used to the role having directed the play Tons of Money at The Mowlem in July 2022 and has directed and performed in pantos in the past. He added:
“To be quite honest playing the dame requires 12 costume changes and a lot of running around so it’s fine to be taking a back seat and also Henry came along! I’ll be playing Henry Higgins in My Fair Lady at The Mowlem in March this year, so that’s plenty to keep me busy.
“It’s nice to be the director pointing the finger – not that they listen to me! Once the curtain goes up they know that they can do what they like as I’m powerless then – I have no real control!”
Blow the January cobwebs away at The Mowlem
Good family friendly fun
In traditional panto style the show promises to be slightly chaotic and although they can’t throw sweets at the audience anymore or have water fights without a lot of mopping up afterwards to prevent slipping, they’ll be lots of good family friendly fun. Brian said:
“There will still be a lot of ‘oh yes he is’ and ‘oh no he isn’t’ as well as lots of laughs, so come and blow away the January cobwebs. And if nothing else you can save on heating bills – we’re definitely a ‘warm space’ although there’s no free drinks here – you have to buy your own!”
David Wellstead Arnold is Nurse Annie Biotic, pictured with Maid Marion
“Trained by a master!”
Oh and what about the dame Nurse Annie Biotic in the panto, this year played by David Wellstead Arnold, is he up to scratch?
“Of course he is – he’s been trained by a master!”
- Robin Hood and the Babes in the Wood by Swanage Drama Company is on at The Mowlem in Swanage. Performances Friday 13th, Saturday 14th, Friday 20th and Saturday 21st at 7.30 pm and Saturday 14th and 21st at 2 pm
- Book tickets via The Mowlem website
Brian Travers will be playing Henry Higgins in Swanage Musical Theatre’s production of My Fair Lady at The Mowlem on Thursday 23rd, Friday 24th and Saturday 25th March 2023