Sunday, June 10, 2012
Robin Hood by Phillip J. Hickman at Schiller Park
Today, we take a trip into fantasy and onto a stage play. Robin Hood is one of my favorite childhood stories, and although it was well-acted here, I have to say I barely recognized the plot. What’s the first thing you think of when you think of Robin Hood? For me, it’s maybe a bow and arrow, and robbing from the rich to give to the poor. Well, he uses the bow once, and robs someone once, but spends the rest of the play proving his innocence, (WHY?) and arguing with MAID MARIAN, (Who is not here a damsel in distress.) about leadership.
In the end, when Robin Hood fights the Prince’s men it is Maid Marian who comes in with a bow and arrow and shoots the sheriff’s men. Also, King Richard the Lion-hearted never returns from the Crusades. In this version, Prince John’s mother, the Queen of France, shows up and shames the prince into giving Robin back his title and land. The playbill informs us that this is a play about leadership, and that Robin Hood starts off as a “snotty rich kid”. Now, I’ve seen my fair share of Robin Hood interpretations from Errol Flynn and Kevin Costner to Disney and Mel Brooks, even my own first grade writings… but never have I seen versions where for example, Little John’s wife beats the Prince’s men as happened here. I suppose my main complaint is I didn’t see Robin’s development as a hero, and when I did it was in the form of advice from Maid Marian, who could fight off her captors. If you’re going to name the play Robin Hood, than at least make Maid Marian need the hero. Make her as independent as you like, and feminist, but she can’t wear both the bow AND the pants.
The actors did well, complaints aside. One of the benefits of stage plays is that you can be totally immersed in the action, because there’s no removal as there is with a TV or movie screen. The actors thrive from applause, the reactions are genuine and in real time, and you can sort of people watch, and scope out the people’s reactions. At best though, I’d say it reminded me of high school, where all the fight scenes come from the “William Shatner school of fighting” (as I explained to my mother in the park.) and you just sort of toss people around, and make no contact. All fairness to Robin Hood and James T. Kirk, I considered it nostalgic and funny, and I like being able to be outside AND right there with the actors.
All things considered, I liked the play. I found parts of it unfamiliar, but I enjoyed its dramatic flare, and the actors (Who I assume are acting students from OSU.) all got a kick out of it. It’s that feeling of being center stage and watching all these things happen that’s different from TV. There’s a different atmosphere; all kinds of people came to watch and lie on blankets. Some people brought their dogs. All in all, a pleasant evening out in Schiller Park, but not for a tale of leadership. If this was Robin Hood’s heroic story, I didn’t see it! Why does Marian need Robin Hood again? Oh, yeah! He’s supposed to be the hero. With the bow! For the love of Pete, at least give him the bow, Marian!