“Welcome, one and all,” says Will Scarlet, with a broad smile and a bow, “to Will & Allyn’s Interactive Theatre!”
“Every Saturday,” says Allyn-a-Dale, “Will and I and our friends from the story world of ‘The Outlaws of Avalon’ trilogy—”
“Coming one of these days to a book retailer near you!”
“—Will take at random two of the suggestions gleaned from you, our gentle audience, and incorporate them into… well, the sort of tomfoolery Will calls entertainment.”
“So make yourselves comfortable,” says Will, “as we now present to you: ‘The Merchant of Sherwood’!”
[The curtain rises on a courtroom setup with a forest backdrop. Two tables sit opposite the pulpit serving as the judge’s bench. Seated at the first is Allyn-a-Dale, casting evil glances at the second, where Will Scarlet nervously wrings a handkerchief beside Marion Hood, who’s dressed in a sharp business suit and has stowed her hair away beneath a gentleman’s powdered wig. From his stance beside the bench, Little John speaks.]
Little John/Bailiff: All rise. Honorable Judge Robin Hood, presiding.
[Everyone stands as Robin enters the stage and takes his place behind the pulpit.]
Robin/Judge: Case number eleven-twenty-three, Shylock-a-Dale vs. Antonio Scarlet. What is your suit against the defendant, Shylock?
Allyn/Shylock: Your Honor, I lent the defendant a great sum of money, free of interest, with the understanding it was to be repaid as soon as his fleet of ships returned from their latest venture, or else. But most unfortunately… [fails to suppress a darkly-satisfied chuckle] …his entire fleet has been reported to have sunk in a tempest.
Will/Antonio: Foul! Foul, I say! He put Prospero up to it, I know he did! It wouldn’t be the first time Shylock snuck out of his own play to scheme with the characters from another! Him, Iago, Lady MacBeth, they’re all in on it!
Robin/Judge [with a thump of his gavel]: Order in the court. Pray continue, Shylock. What does your contract with Antonio stipulate in the event he cannot repay the loan?
Allyn/Shylock [grinning wickedly]: In lieu of the money, one pound of flesh.
Will/Antonio [panicking]: I thought he’d accept a bacon-wrapped sirloin! I never would have given my signature if I thought he wanted a chunk out of me!
Allyn/Shylock: Not just any chunk, Antonio. I will have your heart! And maybe a piece of your liver, if you’re still a few ounces shy.
Robin/Judge [frowning]: Why didn’t you have a lawyer look over the fine print for you, Antonio?
Will/Antonio [jerking a thumb toward Marion beside him]: I hadn’t hired her yet. …Him. I meant him. We totally don’t know she’s Portia in disguise.
Marion/Portia [rolling her eyes]: May I approach the bench, Your Honor?
Robin/Judge: Certainly, Counselor.
[Marion steps forward with a copy of the contract in hand.]
Marion/Portia: As you can see, Your Honor, it’s all perfectly clear and distressingly legal. With Antonio flat broke, Shylock is indeed entitled to his pound of flesh. …and only that. [Turns to Allyn in triumph.] If he can carve out a heart without causing any bleeding, fine. But nowhere does it state Shylock has a right to so much as a drop of Antonio’s blood.
Allyn/Shylock [outraged]: The blood is implied!
Robin/Judge: This court does not recognize vague implications as binding.
Allyn/Shylock: But he owes me!
Will/Antonio: I’m willing to renegotiate the terms. As of dinner last night, the offer of sirloin is no longer on the table, but hey, I can pay you in thrills! You ever see a guy juggle flaming knives before?
Little John/Bailiff: You can’t do that in here.
Will/Antonio: Sure I can! I’ve got a guy waiting offstage with flame retardants, just in case.
Will/Antonio: All right, it’s a bucket of soaking-wet socks, but I’m sure that would smother any tiny, incidental blazes just as well.
Robin/Judge [bringing down gavel]: Case dismissed. Trial adjourned. And tell your “guy” to get the laundry in a dryer before it starts to mildew.
Allyn/Shylock [snarling]: I’ll get your heart next time, Antonio Scarlet. Just see if I don’t!
Will/Antonio: If it’s the way to my heart you’re after… [a wink and a smile] …then the next round of bacon-wrapped steaks and ale is on you.
“Aaaand SCENE!” says Will.
“Thank you to audience members Steven Bourelle and Tyler-Rose Counts,” says Allyn, “for providing us with the inspiration ‘Shakespeare while juggling flaming knives’ and ‘wet socks’.”
“If you enjoyed yourselves,” Will says, “(or if you didn’t, but you totally did, right?), don’t forget to leave suggestions for future productions in the comments! Words or phrases we’ve got to include, a prop to use, a prompt to run with… anything goes! Until next week, friends! Will and Allyn out!”