Much like Clackamas Rep’s 2016 smash hit Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery, also by Ken Ludwig, Sherwood is a Monty Python-esque performance filled with quick wit, even quicker costume changes, mistaken identities, and roguish tricks.
The strong cast includes John San Nicholas, who played Sherlock in Baskerville, as Robin Hood, with Amber Bogdewiecz as Maid Marian, Annie Rimmer-Weeks as Dearwynn, Todd Van Voris as Friar Tuck, Tom Mounsey as Little John, Tom Walton as Sir Guy of Gisbourne, Mark Schwahn as the Sheriff of Nottingham, and Alan King as Prince John. The cast of eight portrays 30 additional roles, each requiring a costume change, so things move quickly.
The Robin Hood story is deeply rooted in English folklore, and there are many variations. This version is set in 1194. While England’s rightful king Richard the Lionhearted is away, fighting in the Crusades, Prince John plots to usurp the throne. There are taxes and more taxes, the sheriff cracks down on poachers, and Sir Guy behaves like a general slimeball. These are “men of greed,” someone points out, “and we have a sacred duty to perform.” Swords clash, arrows fly, and by the magic of special effects even hit people! There is mayhem and fun and romance, and very nearly a hanging! Thanks to fight choreographer Jonathan Cole, no one is maimed.
To help audiences imagine the 17 different English locales in the play, Clackamas Rep enlisted designers Annie Rimmer-Weeks (who also portrays Dearwynn) and Orie Weeks to design and build custom digital projections.
Playwright Ken Ludwig wrote his first Broadway hit, Lend Me A Tenor, which debuted in 1989. It was nominated for nine Tony awards and won three. Other popular shows include Crazy for You, Moon Over Buffalo, and Shakespeare in Hollywood.
This is a fun and clever family show directed by Clackamas Rep’s artistic director David Smith-English. Thanks also to Christopher D. Whitten, scenic and lighting designer; Sydney Dufka, costume designer; Micah Steury, properties designer; Molly Bowman, stage manager; Stephanie Gaslin, dialect coach; Wesley Robert Hanson, dance choreography.
Performances are Thursday – Saturday at 7:30 p.m., with 2:30 p.m. Sunday matinees through July 21.
Top photo: John San Nicholas and Amber Bogdewiecz. Photo by Travis Nordurft.