Edinburgh Fringe 2022
Inspired by tales of Sir Lancelot and Robin Hood, plucky heroine Will Tell disguises herself as a knight and rides off on a chivalric quest to rescue her freedom-fighting dad from Baron Boris’s deepest darkest dungeon. Will knows how to stand up to tyrants but nothing has prepared her for when Boris’s daughter Edeltraut falls madly in love with her and wants to be rescued too. Madcap physical comedy with capers around castles, damsels in distress, a jaw-dropping joust and lots of original catchy musical numbers.
A hero’s quest, complete with feisty heroine, wicked villain and, of course, deepest darkest dungeons in which the heroine’s father languishes. And from where he must be rescued from.
This retelling of the William Tell story finds Wilhelm Tell in said dungeon having annoyed the wicked Baron Boris von Bummelkrachenhofer. Who, like all proper villains, has tricked him, failed to honour his promises and imprisoned him. But all is not lost as Wilhelm’s daughter, Wilhelmina, is determined to rescue him.
In disguise as Will von Pumpernickel, Wilhelmina sets off to find the wicked baron’s castle and rescue him, assisted by Rosina the donkey, who isn’t always quite as helpful as Wilhelmina would like!
Will Tell and the Big Bad Baron is written by Colin Granger of Anglo-Swiss company Fideri as a new telling of the great Swiss ‘Robin Hood’, who fought against the rule of the Austro-Hungarian empire and famously shot an apple off his child’s head with a crossbow.
It is a proper pantomime romp, with plenty of cackling, cheering and booing; fights, chases and moments of peril. There was no shortage of volunteers to go on stage to help Wilhelmina (Natasha Granger) don a suit of armour created from a motley collection of kitchen ware. Jack Faires as Baron Boris von Bummelkrachenhofer strode, minced and sashayed across the stage sporting some very fine sneering. Plus, later on, playing his own daughter, Edeltraut von Bummelkrachenhofer who falls in love with the disguised Wilhelmina and demands to also be rescued. The cast is completed by Rosina, the donkey and Prinz, the baron’s horse (who conveniently take one look at each other and are smitten).
The pace and energy never slack, everyone was cheering, booing or clapping whatever their age.
The real audience for this show is, of course, the children so after the show I sat down with Yergeniya and her two children, Maria (aged 7) and Charlie (aged 5) who had come because they had met Rosina, the donkey, out on the street and wanted to see more of her. They were very pleased she had such a central role in the play. Here are some of the things they said about the show:
Charlie said ‘we got to go on stage two times’: for Maria ‘it was funny, enjoyable and sometimes you get to go on the stage’. Between them they remembered every bit of the armour they had helped Wilhelmina with and then ‘the second time we helped save Edel!’.
Overall, this a great family show: energetic, pacey with plenty of opportunity to join in and let off steam.