Wednesday, 18 June 2014

CD Review: Hood: The Scribe of Sherwood

"But tell me about Robin Hood..."

Spiteful Puppet’s reimagining of the world of Sherwood Forest continues with Hood: The Scribe of Sherwood which brings together two 30 minute stories, The Outlaw’s Tale and The Sheriff’s Tale. Both written by Iain Meadows, there’s a real pleasure in immersing oneself in so familiar a story to find that not everything is quite as it seems, what we’ve heard from the legend is not necessarily the way things are, neatly reflecting the overall conceit here of the arrival of troubadouring storyteller Alan-a-dale.

Both stories hang around Alan’s desire to find out more about the shadowy and elusive figure of notorious outlaw Robin De Loxley. In The Outlaw’s Tale he meets Little John and Will Scarlet and as they take shelter from a storm, he urges them to tell him the truth. But the story that John tells is not one that he is expecting, nor us for that matter, and it does a great job of subverting our expectations and yet still managing to be entertaining. Peter Greenall and Damian Cooper as John and Will are highly charismatic, allowing Billy Miller’s Alan to play a straighter role.

The Sheriff’s Tale feels a little disappointing by comparison, less exciting in the story it tells – in this case it is Lee Ingleby’s Phillip De Nicholay who is regaling Alan with tales of friendships and loves lost, his position as the Sheriff of Nottingham not quite the one of lore (as explained in the first instalment of Hood) but not quite gripping enough to really engage. Sarah McKendrick’s Gallic Lady Marion also underwhelms here, not given enough to really rise above our preconceptions of her character and create something new until too late.

Samuel Pegg’s music remains a defining feature of these dramas though, stirringly orchestral and hugely dramatic, it adds a great texture to these audio dramas that works well. The bite-sized chunks offered here work best as part of the larger narrative, rather than as stand-alone pieces but put altogether, they make for a fascinating reinterpretation of this world.

Originally written for The Public Reviews

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