Stratford theatre company Tread the Boards take Robin Hood on an outdoor tour
Theatre company Tread the Boards is on tour with its new production of Robin Hood. Here Robert Moore (Robin) and Alex Whitworth (Marion) tell Gill Sutherland about themselves and taking on the iconic roles.
What was your first on-stage performance?
Robert (Robin): I was 10. I was cast in the school's Christmas show of A Christmas Carol, I played Ebenezer Scrooge. After years of not being very good at sport, I finally found a subject I could really get my teeth stuck into. I loved shouting at people as scrooge. It was great fun.
Alex (Marion): I think it was as a Dove in a Christmas primary school show when I was about 4. I am naturally a very graceful person so being a gentle graceful dove was the ideal first role.
Was there a magic moment when you decided to become an actor, and what was your route in?
Robert (Robin): Towards the end of school when I was about 18, I really enjoyed making people laugh, I played a bumbling, slightly tipsy version of Pickering in Pygmalion in my final school exam and I couldn't think of any other job I wanted to do, so I went onto to study theatre and film at University in Liverpool. After graduating I went onto to work in mostly touring theatre which has allowed me to travel and work all over the UK, which I love. This has included a lot of outdoor Shakespeare shows but also other classic texts like Pride and Prejudice, and Treasure Island.
Alex (Marion): Nope there was no lightbulb moment for me, as a kid I wanted to be a Spice Girl but as I got older I realised that was realistically not going to happen and there was also the minor inconvenience that I cant sing...
I trained at Italia Conti on the BA (Hons) Acting course and have worked pretty consistently since in mostly in theatre and audio work.
Who has influenced or mentored you?
Robert (Robin): My drama teacher, Margaret Doreman, who I haven't seen in about 11 years, was really inspirational. Her teaching practises and passion for theatre had a really impact on me. I also am a huge fan of Steve Coogan who I consider to be a superb character actor and writer. I'd love to meet him.
Alex (Marion): I don't think there was ever one person that inspired me, I've always been pretty headstrong and have known my own mind (I call it headstrong my mother would call it "being a nightmare"!) but of course there are plenty of actors that I admire hugely, Olivia Coleman, Vicky McClure, Andrew Scott, Anne-Marie Duff and of course the sublime Helen McCroy.
Have you managed to do any work in the last year or what else have you been up to?
Robert (Robin): I have been fortunate in the last year considering the lack of work during the pandemic. I spent last summer in Copenhagen performing in the botanical gardens in an outdoor Midsummer Night’s Dream, I was cast as Bottom and it was my first time performing internationally. It was a wonderful experience. At Christmas I worked with Tread The Boards Theatre in their touring pantomime as one of the ugly sisters. I'm not shy to admit I enjoyed wearing the heels and dresses for the first time as a dame character. Red Earth Theatre also commissioned myself and my wife to create an online web series, it was a spoof detective series and we created 20 episodes in total.
Alex (Marion): I feel pretty luckily to have picked up any acting work over the last year as I know plenty of actors who have not worked for a year now or left the profession all together. I did an outdoor tour last summer playing Moley in Wind in The Willows, a live streamed studio version of Cinderella over Christmas, and an advert for tourism in Leicester plus some other online bits.
What has inspired you during lockdown?
Robert (Robin): I have watched a lot of travel shows by the likes of Billy Connolly, Joanna Lumley and Ewan McGregor. I have also been exploring the large catalogue of classic sitcoms trying to find ones I've never watched. I've recently discovered The Good Life and it is superb. I have also spent lots of time rambling around local places like the Welcombe Hills. That's something myself and Robin Hood have in common: our love of the outdoors.
Alex (Marion): I was very lucky to spend lockdown in the countryside so spent time learning to cook more successfully (I'm still exceptionally mediocre), reading and there might have been the occasional glass of wine or two. Myself and my partner have used the most recent lockdown to start setting up a children’s entertainment business, so if you have a children’s birthday coming up have a look at Sylvan Entertainment.
How does it feel to be going out on the road with Robin Hood?
Robert (Robin): It is going to be fabulous, we are a really close cast having worked together on multiple occasions before. We know each others sense of humour and how far to push each other's buttons. I have worked with Alexandra Whitworth twice before where we played brother and sister both times, this is the first time I have played opposite her in a romantic way. It's been fun rehearsing together finding a new dynamic between us.
Alex (Marion): It’s always lovely working at the Attic and Robin Hood is no different, it’s already such fun as all of the cast already know each other so the silliness started from day one which given the nature of the show is very helpful.
What can audiences expect from this production of Robin Hood?
Robert (Robin): If you like Monty Python, Blackadder and silly humour, then this is the show for you. The play doesn't take itself too seriously, it has enough swashbuckling action and adventure to keep the children entertained, yet plenty of word play and adult humour for the mums and dads to chuckle at too.
Alex (Marion): Yes, lots of silliness.
Tell us about your character, what is the process of becoming them?
Robert (Robin): We are playing Robin Hood as the master of disguise and a man of many voices, dressing up to often trick the sheriff who he teases throughout the show. He is witty and charming and very playful. I am also thrilled to be providing the voice for Prince John (who is only ever heard and not seen) and he is the opposite, slimy, weird and mean.
Alex (Marion): Maid Marion is a character everyone knows and has been played many different ways. In this version she spends a lot of her time bossing the boys around and keeping them in line which I'm finding fairly easy to channel!
What is the most Robin Hood/Maid Marion thing you’ve ever done?
Robert (Robin): I was brought up in Nottinghamshire. Weekend walks with the family would often be at Sherwood Forest, Rufford Country Park and Clumber Park. I had a little green Robin Hood hat, a bow and arrow, and a tent I'd often camp in in my parents back garden, pretending to be in Sherwood Forest. I think this is probably the most Robin Hood I've ever been up until now.
Alex (Marion): Erm, I honestly don’t know... worn green tights?!
What other roles would you love to play?
Robert (Robin): I'd love to be in a Sherlock Holmes play, especially if it was a comedy version, I like spoofs but also detective stories. Ghost stories are always fun onstage too, I enjoy the challenge at how the special effects are achieved onstage; Woman in Black is a show I'd love to take part in.
Alex (Marion): I would love to do a Rattigan at some point, the Deep Blue Sea or Cause Celebre would be incredible but those roles are probably a good 10 years off yet. I would love to do a Coward soon, and Shakespeare wise Lady Percy is a role high up on my list.
What’s next after this?!
Robert (Robin): I am helping to write and develop a behind-the-scenes theatre tour for the Attic Theatre. Small groups of guests will be able visit the theatre after a whole year of no shows inside. Guests will learn about the history of the 15th century structure as well as interesting theatre making secrets.
Alex (Marion): I'm playing Kent in King Lear at Stokesay Court in Shropshire in June and then Elizabeth Woodville in Wars of The Roses for The Knights of Middle England at Warwick Castle from July till early September and then Ratty in Wind in the Willows at Cheltenham Playhouse over Christmas.
When and where: Robin Hood is at Tiddington Home Guard Cllub (1st to 6th June); and Ettington Park Hotel (13 and 20th June). Visit www.theattictheatre.co.uk to book tickets.