Panto has NZ flavour


Robin Hood is step­ping out of Sher­wood For­est and into Wel­ly­wood.

In Circa The­atre’s Christ­mas pan­tomime Robin Hood, the out­law moves stealthily around the Town Belt and takes refuge in Zealan­dia, af­ter be­ing ac­cused of a trumped-up charge.

Jamie McCaskill, who plays the ti­tle role, said the char­ac­ters had been given a New Zealand makeover and ref­er­ences to Welling­ton and New Zealand popped up through­out the play.

‘‘It’s very cur­rent. There’s even some­thing about the All Blacks’ loss to Aus­tralia in Hong Kong,’’ he said.

‘‘King Richard is ba­si­cally Richie McCaw and Evil John is John Key, though we don’t re­fer to his poli­cies; it’s tongue-and-cheek stuff. I’m sure he’s been in­vited, but I doubt he’ll come.’’

In true pan­tomime tra­di­tion there’s a dame – an age­ing woman ( played by a man), who speaks di­rectly to the au­di­ence and pur­sues un­likely ro­mances. Gavin Ruther­ford plays Trelise Hood, a dress­maker and Robin Hood’s mother.

‘‘So there’s some cross-dress­ing, some beau­ti­ful mu­sic, some rel­e­vant jokes and lots of laughs,’’ said McCaskill.

‘‘It’s a lot of fun. A lot of the hu­mour is cur­rent and I like that we can in­ter­act with the au­di­ence. It’s like Shrek in that there’s sub­tle adult hu­mour, but the kids will love it too.’’

This is the first pan­tomime McCaskill has acted in since he was at school 17 years ago, and he is en­joy­ing the role.

‘‘When I was 12, I was in a panto ver­sion of Drac­ula. Drac­ula as a pan­tomime, that was weird.

‘‘I’ve al­ways liked Robin Hood, since I was a kid. I use to dress up as Robin Hood. It’s a great story. He a real hero for the peo­ple, the un­der­dog.’’

It has also made McCaskill want to try archery, al­though real bows and ar­rows are not used in this per­for­mance.

‘‘I’ve never had a turn with a real bow and ar­row, but I’m go­ing to take it up.’’

Robin Hood, at Circa The­atre un­til De­cem­ber 23 and from Jan­uary 4 till 15.

Pan­tomime pranks: Gavin Ruther­ford as Mrs Hood and Jamie McCaskill make sure there are lots of laughs in Circa The­atre’s lat­est pan­tomime.

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