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November 29, 2022 - 8:00am

Robin Hood: good, bad or evil? Show patrons will get to decide

posted by Joanne Beck in news, entertainment, Batavia High School, notify.

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This week’s production of "The Trial of Robin Hood" will probably seem familiar, since most people —whether through cartoons, movies or live stage — have watched a version of the English-based character performing his obligatory duties to give to the poor.

Except for the fact that this Robin Hood must fight for his life in a court battle. And King Richard, in this case, is Queen Richelle. Oh, and there are those three witnesses who describe in conflicting detail who they believe Robin Hood to be. And, yes, another variation is that the audience gets to vote for one of three endings to the story.

So perhaps you may not be as familiar with this version of the good-deed-doer and his band of merry men. But one thing is certain, says Caryn Leigh Wood, director of the Batavia High School Drama Club’s play.

“It’s very Robin Hood in tights-esque. It’s tongue in cheek, almost poking fun at itself,” she said after rehearsals Monday evening. “Obviously, it's a well-known story. I feel like almost everybody has heard the story or concept of Robin Hood. And obviously, there's tons of different adaptations. But it's funny, it's very silly, and we don't take it too seriously at all. If people come with an open mind and be ready for some silly fun time … I think people will laugh a lot.”

The trial is set for 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday and at 2 p.m. Sunday at BHS, 260 State St., Batavia.

Funny thing is that The Batavian asked Wood how many BHS shows this makes for her, and she only happened to realize earlier in the day that it’s her 20th season. It gave her pause to reflect on the work that has gone into each and every show — from the selection process and auditions to the creation of the set, costumes, running lines, choreography and the maestro act of pulling it all together.

Throughout it all, Wood has questioned herself: am I doing everything that I need to do?

“I want to work as hard as I can for the students; they are putting in a tremendous amount of effort and time, and I want to reciprocate that for them. And so before every show every year, I'm just like, okay, mentally I've gotta prepare, gotta make sure I have my checklists. And I foresee a daunting task, and then I get to this point, and it's like, a whirlwind. And I'm like, how did I get here?" 

It’s really that "day-to-day, constant, chipping away" at the minute details that have brought her and the club members to this point. And yet, she remembers every single production, she said, and the significance of each. This winter’s show puts a cast of 25 students and a crew of six to work on the tale of Robin Hood of Nottingham, England.

“I look at a ton of material each year, I like to cast a wide net,” she said. “It comes down to what fits the kids best. When I start hearing their voices speaking the parts, I know that’s the one. And we want one that also be entertaining to the audience.”

The Drama Club voted for a comedy this year, a stark contrast to last year’s sobering “The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes.” They got what they asked for, though it has meant three times the work.

The trial puts Robin in the hot seat, as witness accounts by Maiden Marian and the Sheriff of Nottingham widely stray from Robin’s own accounting. As each witness describes his and her version of details, a vignette of characters acts it out before the audience.

Whose version will win out? With Queen Richelle as the judge, the court must rule on what happened to a kingdom run amok. Is Robin Hood a lusty hero, a hapless romantic or truly an evil criminal? That’s where the audience comes in, to vote on a finale.

Typical for many of Wood’s shows, this will be a black box-style, putting the audience square in the eyes of actors during the performance. She likes that it really draws spectators into the action while also giving students a more intimate acting experience.

All this is to say that the cast had to rehearse three different endings and be prepared for the final decision, chosen on the spot during the show. Rest assured, Wood said, “we have a plan.”

No matter what scenario is chosen, the kids will have fun with it, she said.

“They know all three endings. They are very prepared,” the confident director said. “I think that everybody will laugh at something in the show.”

Tickets are $9 and available at showtix4u.com or $10 at the door.

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Photos of dress rehearsal for "The Trial of Robin Hood" feature BHS senior Paul Daniszewski as Robin Hood, junior Cassidy Crawford as Maid Marian, senior Christina Brown as Sheriff of Nottingham, and Saniiya Santiago as Queen Richelle. Photos by Howard Owens.

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