CD Review: Hood – Noble Secrets

“You won’t survive a night in Sherwood Forest”

Spiteful Puppet’s debut audio drama revisits one of our most well-known folk heroes, Robin Hood, but in this origin story for the Merry Men, Iain Meadows has managed an adroit reimagining of the world of Sherwood Forest and beyond. Aided by a swooping orchestral score from Samuel Pegg, it rises from a slightly ponderous beginning to become a constantly surprising and interesting piece of drama.

The list of characters is familiar – Robin De Loxley, Little John, Will Scarlet, the Lady Marion… – but their actions not necessarily so. This is a fresh take on everything you think you know but never unnecessarily so and it is a clever technique that demands the attention of the listener, keeping us on our toes not least in making the central character Phillip De Nicholay, the Sheriff of Nottingham.

The story delves deep into the pressures of a tax-heavy regime, both in the collection and the payment of them, what drives people to become outlaws and the impact this all has on society at large. Lee Ingleby brings out a beautifully tortured soul in De Nicholay that is highly engaging as is Peter Greenall’s intelligent Little John. Damian Cooper exudes exuberance as a spiky Will Scarlett and Sarah McKendrick’s Lady Marion is delightfully counterintuitive.

At 80 minutes long (two featurettes are also included in the set), Hood: Noble Secrets acquits itself well in successfully reinventing a most popular story and setting up the potential for future instalments. If they can maintain the excitement and swiftly-moving pace of the latter stages here, it could become a long-running series to rival any of the televisual or cinematic adaptations of Robin Hood that are so well known.

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