Vancouver Sun Interview with Director Stephen Drover
A merry old time is had in Pitcher’s Sherwood Forest
So just how merry can merry men get? When Carousel Theatre presents its Christmas production of Robin Hood, the answer is simple:
Very merry indeed.
As director Stephen Drover shapes this adaptation by Jeff Pitcher of the familiar English legend, he’s delighted to be working with some of the brightest lights in comedy. These days Ryan Beil is perhaps best known as the goofy guy in the A&W ads (spots which, quite frankly, don’t do full justice to Beil’s skills), but he’s famous (infamous?) in Vancouver theatre for exceedingly sharp improv skills and a grasp of physical comedy so strong that he stole the show at this year’s Bard on the Beach production of The Comedy of Errors.
Josue Laboucane can twirl a villain’s moustache with elan — here he’s the wicked Sheriff of Nottingham, with Beil as his rotten forester Guy of Gisborne. A Bard veteran always worth catching for his comedy is Allan Zinyk, who is Friar Tuck, and big Joshua Reynolds plays Little John.
The list goes on and on: Julie McIsaac (last seen displaying the bright understanding of how to play a dimbulb in the Arts Club’s Black Comedy) as Will Scarlet, Ian Butcher (very scary as a cop in last year’s brilliant Glengarry Glen Ross by Main Street Theatre) as the Knight, and Stratford regular Lawrence Haegert as our hero, Mr. Hood.
Carousel saw great success with its previous productions of Pitcher’s take on Peter Pan. Better yet, Drover cut his teeth working with Pitcher at Theatre Newfoundland Labrador, where Drover ran the youth-theatre program.
“I’m really pushing the action aspect, swashbuckling for lack of a better term,” he says of Robin Hood. “Lots of fights, lots of bows and arrows. What’s quite fun about it is that the play lives in an imagined medieval fairy-tale world that’s acutely aware of itself, somewhat in the tradition of Shrek or The Princess Bride, so it’s able to mock itself and make fun of itself.”
Yet, Drover adds, there are some thematic streams for older ears.
“I think Jeff’s done a very good job of writing a play that’s entertaining as a fairy tale but also has some really interesting undertones in there that the adults can appreciate. The story of Robin Hood is really very much about the reappropriation of funds, taking from the rich to give to the poor — economic balance — and let’s have some faith about the power of balance in nature, because he gets the men to leave the city and come live in the woods.
“I don’t think the play aims to have environmental or financial messages…but adults who come to see the play will be pleased with those subtextures to it.”