Terrible things when someone makes off with your gold. Even worse when they remove your trousers along with much of your dignity.

Still, the Sheriff of Nottingham probably had it coming, even if he was lumbered with the most incompetent bunch of Norman bully boys in the early Middle Ages.

Not to mention the fact the witch he had hired had transformed into a sex- starved strumpet wandering the Forest in search of nookie. And then there was that vampire nun to contend with.

Not that any of this seemed to be bothering Robin's Merry Men as they enjoyed a bevy with Friar Tuck at Little John's stag night.

It's Robin Hood, but not quite as you might remember it as Winchester's Chesil Theatre stages Jonathan Edgington's roustabout new version of the Sherwood Forest classic tale of the trials and tribulations of living on the poverty line in medieval Nottingham.

Edgington has taken a few liberties with the historic version of brave Robin's battles with the likes of Guy of Gisbourne and his overlord, the deliciously nasty Sheriff. The introduction of a trio of witchy sisters hell- bent on re-finding their youth, a cross- dressing Maid Marion and vengeful nun with a slain undead ex-lover may raise traditionalist eyebrows. But then again no one is certain Robin of Loxley ever did exist so who's to say he didn't start out life as a poetry-loving wimp who Marion thought a bit of a cissy?

Directed by Martin Humphrey, the exuberant cast make the most of the glorious setting of the Bishop of Winchester's back garden at Wolvesey Palace. A few hi-tech tricks make the witches' coven scenes a hoot and also the laugh- out-loud archery contest where, not surprisingly, the audience are never in any real danger from stray arrows.

Out of a strong cast it is only right to mention the villainous Sheriff himself played by Peter Andrews in wonderful exasperated Mafia boss style, and sex-starved witch Ursula, played by the wonderful crone-like Ros Liddiard.

Robin Hood runs until Saturday July 16. Tickets on the door. Refreshments on sale or take a picnic and remember your fold away chairs! Saturday afternoon matinee and evening performances.