Review: Hood – Noble Secrets / Author: Iain Meadows / Director: Iain Meadows / Composer: Samuel Pegg / Starring: Lee Ingleby, Peter Greenall, Damian Cooper, Sean Connolly / Publisher: Spiteful Puppet / Release Date: Out Now
The story of Robin Hood is one that most of us know way too well. Hood: Noble Secrets attempts to take a fresh look at the story whilst maintaining both an authentic historical feel and the sort of swashbuckling action adventure that we’ve grown to expect. This marks Spiteful Puppet’s debut into the world of audio drama and they have gone all out with a full cast audio and a bespoke score.
The plot begins relatively slowly and as you’d expect it revolves around outlaws and the theft of taxes. As characters such as Maid Marian and Robert de Loxley are introduced it becomes obvious that the writer and director Iain Meadows intends to subvert expectations without making overly radical or unnecessary changes. As a result this means that we get much more character depth. Lee Ingleby puts in a remarkable performance as the Sherrif of Nottingham, Phillip De Nicholay. This drama very much belongs to the Sheriff who is a sympathetic and interesting character. This is not a tale of dark villains being stopped by roguish heroes, rather it is filled with a great many shades of grey and this makes Robin in the Hood’s thieving shenanigans even more interesting and engaging.
Greenall and Cooper put in fantastic performances as Little John and Will Scarlet. Both of these characters are strongly reminiscent of their counterparts in the classic TV series Robin of Sherwood. Cooper in particular delivers a rather splendid Ray Winstone-like turn and if this series continues he may well establish a definitive Will Scarlet. The addition of some barbarous Celts is also a nice touch and adds to the mix.
Samuel Pegg’s sweeping and epic score fits the action adventure feel of this work very well indeed, even if the production does dwell on it a bit too much on occasion. Though it’s obvious why (it’s a great score), this is a little irksome, though not enough to put the listener off. The drama is split into two CDs, with a short special feature on each disc. The features are nice though bordering on being more promotional fluff than anything else. Hood: Noble Secrets is certainly a good beginning to what we hope will be a highly successful and popular series.