Without getting too political, Marian, or The True Tale of Robin Hood was serendipitously timed. The Know Theatre’s final dress rehearsal for the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network came just one day after the spark of a national conversation about sexuality and gender.
While Maid Marian disguises herself as Robin Hood and proves she can not only fit in with the group of merry men, but lead them, this story is about so much more than its hero. The play is centered on those around her (or him), unpacking the many definitions of gender identity and the fluidity of sexual orientation.
Often, plays focusing on an LGBTQ experience are heavy – there’s so much to work through. And yet, for this 80-minute production with no intermission, I could not stop laughing. Marian is living a double-life as Robin Hood. Female actresses are playing women pretending to be men falling in love with men who are secretly women. One of Robin Hood’s followers, Much the Miller’s Son, prefers to go by “merry person” when they declare “merry man” doesn’t fit and “woman” doesn’t quite feel right, either.
So perfectly was the Know Theatre able to pack a multitude of tough, heavy conversations with the most lighthearted comedy. While all the merry people are deciding how they identify, Little John chimes in, “I want to be a bear!” which had my Disney-loving, nostalgic self thrilled with the nod to the cartoon version.
While most of the performance had me in hysterics, I did shed a single tear at a beautiful moment between Robin Hood and Little John. If you’ve ever fallen in (unrequited) love with your best friend, bring a tissue.
At a time when women are fighting for a voice, lesbian and gay people are fighting for equality and transgender people are fighting for representation, Marian helps us realize that we’re all fighting with and supporting each other.
Bonus: the score begins with a whimsical rendition of Rihanna’s “S&M” with a flute and lyre, so you know you’re in for a treat.