The latest in Sweet Tea Shakespeare’s Honey Series is Sweet and Tart
Looking back on my misspent youth, it is easy to connect the dots of learning archery and carrying boot knives (not to mention my love of nonprofits) with my adoration of the Robin Hood legend. I now have another turn of the tale to add to my collection, thanks to Sweet Tea Shakespeare‘s original script “Maid Marian.” Written by local teacher and STS regular Jessica Osnoe, the story is written as a prelude to the myth that has fascinated for hundreds of years.
Osnoe’s script keeps us in Nottingham and the forest as we follow Lady Marian Fitzwalter, her siblings, and a cousin, as they attempt to outwit the Sheriff and Guy of Gisbourne who are stealing-er-collecting taxes for Prince John. Their merry band of women includes a pair of sisters from the village.
For those familiar with Sweet Tea’s set up, normally the spring & summer shows are held out behind the 1897 Poe House on Bradford Avenue. Audiences are encouraged to bring their own seating and sweet tea, beer, wine, water, and comestibles are all available (and all local: beer was from Hugger Mugger Brewery in Sanford, the tea from Winterbloom downtown on Hay St, and food from Fayetteville Pie Company in Westwood Shopping Center).
The night I took in the show, there had been rain, so the production was moved into the church social hall next door. Undeterred, the cast, musicians, and crew put forth a delightful performance, from the pre-show madrigal-esque tunes to the well-choreographed fight scene, and triumphant climax. As behooves this particular legend, there are plenty of ballads, interludes, rousing call-to-arms, and perhaps a love song, all of which fit into the story seamlessly.
Like the “bracing river” Marian and company use to delightful comic effect, this show is invigorating, both to the legend it’s based on and to local theater offerings. Contemporary without neglecting history, period without feeling dated: the show is stimulating for regular theater patrons and new audiences alike.
While this show runs through May 12, I am already looking forward to Sweet Tea Shakespeare’s summer rep programming, plus what they have in store with their youth council, Green Tea. Their shows are family-friendly–and if “Maid Marian” any indication–an exemplary way to get those not enamored with historical theater to be thoroughly in love by evening’s end.