Robin Hood: the Musical, Open Eye Productions, at the Athenaeum Theatre. As a veteran of swashbuckling stage epics, playwright Adam Burke ought to know that it takes a deft hand to balance reverence and irreverence. This umpteenth retelling of the Robin Hood legend may be too self-conscious for its own good: an avalanche of goofy parodic elements--infantile impotence jokes, nonsensical gender-blind casting, blatantly anachronistic dialogue--saps the strength of this otherwise sophisticated investigation of heroism and myth.
Robin Hood: The Musical, a classic bait and switch, centers on a buffoonish protagonist who can just barely carry the mantle of hero. But pint-size Steve Welsh gives a generous performance as the neurotic serf and would-be Robin Hood. Whether he's tripping over his own shoelaces or stumbling to find the right words to woo Maid Marian, it's impossible not to love him.
Brian Posen and Ranjit Souri's three-chord score suffers from an alarming sameness, and lyricist Aaron Barr would be well advised to dispose of some of the more egregious puns (rhyming "Sherwood" with "Sure would!"). But as a showcase for Erin Kathleen Carlson's crack fight choreography, Robin Hood: The Musical satisfies, especially since much of the second act is devoted to the Merry Men repeatedly bashing "that ass licker" the Sheriff of Nottingham over the skull.