In december, I had the pleasure to attend the musical “Robin Hood” in Paris. In France, the release of new musicals every year is quite common; however it is not a new occurrence. An example of a popular french musical is “Notre Dame de Paris”, performed in 1998 and based on Victor Hugo’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Since then, there have been numerous shows such as Cleopatra, 1789: les amants de la Bastille, Mozart l’Opera Rock and many more.
Last year, “Robin des Bois” (Robin Hood) was shown at the Palais des Congres in Paris. The characters are that of the original legend however the story is partly made up. We are introduced to two new characters, respectively Adrien, Robin Hood’s son and Bedelia, the Sheriff’s daughter, who fall in love despite their parent’s quarrels. The story in itself lacked originality and sometimes borrowed over used clichés from other musicals and shows. The musics however were very pleasant, and easy to listen and get into. Some of the lyrics were clearly written to fit the story in the most explicit way and sometimes lacked depth.
However the most pleasant and interesting part of the show was the design and costumes. There was a real search for originality displayed on the stage. The backdrop was actually a giant screen which changed accordingly with the scenes. There were a lot of acrobats amongst the dancers and performers; they made the most of the sets which included ladders hidden in trees and trampolines concealed in the ground. One of the scenes which I particularly enjoyed was the battle between the Sheriff and Robin Hood, where each side charged to war. However this was never perceived directly on stage. Instead, each performer held a puppet representation of themselves and positioned them on stage in various places. The puppets were then front lit by members of the lighting crew. Performed in a blackout, the crew used low beams which resulted in the projection of the puppets into imposing and life-like shadows on the backdrop. With the puppets placed at strategic locations across the stage, it gave the silhouettes a notion of depth and perspective and made for a much more realistic and original battle scene. The costumes were well thought out, with a particular care for details. The designer took their time to create a modern take on the outlaws’ costumes which worked very well without creating an upsetting anachronism.
Overall it was a visually pleasant experience and a redeeming one in terms of design originality.