Total Rating: 
November 29, 2017
December 1, 2017
December 17, 2017
Los Angeles
The Wallis/Vesturport
Theater Type: 
Wallis Annenberg Center
Theater Address: 
9390 North Santa Monica Boulevard
Running Time: 
1 hr, 45 min
David Farr. Songs: Salka Sol
Gisli Orn Gardarsson & Selma Bjornsdottir

“There is no evidence for Robin Hood as a historical character, or for any attempt to set him up as such within at least three centuries of his alleged lifetime,” wrote Lord Raglan in his authoritative book, “The Hero—A Study in Tradition, Myth, and Drama.” But even Lord Raglan would have had the time of his life at The Heart of Robin Hood, the Anglo-Icelandic hoot of a show which just opened at The Wallis for a two-week run.

Written by a Brit, David Farr, directed by the Icelanders Gisli Orn Gardarsson and Selma Bjornsdottis, Heart has huge fun with the Robin Hood story, using music and song, acrobatics, rough and tumble comedy, and dazzling stage effects to reinvent it as a 21st-century entertainment.

Borkur Jonsson’s ingenious set turns the stage into a corner of Sherwood Forest which is dominated upstage by a 40-foot curved wall. The actors and sometimes the musicians (all four of them) make their entrances by sliding at high speed down the wall, like kids in a playground. Don’t ask me how it’s done, but they also manage to run or crawl up the wall when they need to exit.

Even the stage floor becomes part of the show: there’s a small pond stage left in which ducks quack and the fin of a shark appears. Stage right is a large hole down which certain characters disappear. There are also dazzling lighting effects, fog, actors who plummet down into the action on ropes, and a singer (Salka Sol) who wanders around singing dreamy songs right out of a Eurovision contest.

Oh, yes, there’s also a lusty, fast-paced story which pits good-guy Robin Hood (the dynamic Luke Forbes) against the baddie Prince John (Eirik Del Barco Soleglad), who struts around like a rock star. Other lead characters include Christina Bennett Lind, doing hilarious double duty as maid Marian posing as a man in order to join Robin’s merry brood, and Daniel Franzese as Pierre, a Falstaff-like rogue who tries his best to avoid anything even resembling a battle or sword fight (of which there are many).

The entire 22-person cast, which melds L.A.-based performers with international artists, is top-notch in every aspect. They act, sing, leap, dance, fight, tumble, and fly all over the place, creating a wildly inventive, magical world that is both enchanting and unforgettable.

Set: Borkur Jonsson; Costumes: Emma Ryott; Lighting: Ken Billington & Ed McCarthy; Sound: Brian Hsieh; Hair & Makeup: Donna Levy. Fights: Joe Bostic.
Willard Manus
Date Reviewed: 
December 2017