“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: ‘How the Sheriff Stole Christmas’!”
[The curtain rises on Allyn-a-Dale – oh,
A fine sight, he, in white robe, wings, and halo –
Sitting high up at the very tip-top
Of an evergreen-like tree-ish-shaped ladder prop.]
Allyn: The outlaws of Sherwood liked Christmas a lot,
But the Sheriff of Nottinghamshire did not.
Or rather, with the holiday he had no quarrel,
But how the Hood and his band made the Sheriff’s blood boil!
[Enter Will Scarlet with a growl and teeth-gnash
‘Neath the waxy black glory of his false mustache.]
Will/Sheriff: How dare they make merry! How dare they go free!
Well, I’ll ruin their day, oh-ho-ho, just you see!
I’ll steal all the gifts from their dearly loved peasants!
For what is a Christmas without any presents?
[Will dashes to and fro all over the stage,
As Allyn continues from the script’s next page.]
Allyn: So the Sheriff betook himself right through the wood
To a small village known to be friendly with Hood.
He searched high and low in his villainous zeal,
On the hunt for wrapped packages that he could steal.
But lo and behold, not a parcel was there,
For the poverty-stricken had no cash to spare.
Will/Sheriff: That’s what I call a nuisance. How am I to filch
From a bunch of poor people with zip, zero, zilch?”
Allyn: The Sheriff thought it over, then, aha, had a plan,
And back to his Nottingham castle he ran.
That night, as the peasantry slept, he returned,
His wicked grin glinting beneath eyes that burned.
[After a brief trip offstage, Sheriff Scarlet is back,
With Sirs Gawain and Bedivere pulling a cartload of sacks.]
Will/Sheriff: Man-at-Arms One and Man-at-Arms Two,
Take the sacks from the wagon. You know what to do.
Spread out. Leave no hovel unvisited. Quick!
Allyn: And they ghosted through town like so many Saint Nicks,
Leaving gifts under trees that they hung all with lights –
Shawls, boots, and winter coats, new hats and tights,
Toys and candy for the young ones, and oodles
Of fine supper fare with meat, veggies, and noodles.
Gawain/Man-at-Arms One: Can the Sheriff’s coin cover costs of this amount?
Bedivere/Man-at-Arms Two: It’s coming out of the “Stick It to Hood” account.
Allyn: Come the morning, Sheriff and co. ducked out of view,
Peering out to see just what the peasants would do.
All their attention held by the scene at their fore,
They noticed not, at their back, the coming of one more.
[Will’s crew crouching to one side of the ladder-tree,
Enter Robin Hood walking up to join the three.]
Robin Hood: Why, hello there, Sheriff, and Joyeux Noel.
What brings you to this humble village, pray tell?
[Will Scarlet and knights jump in well-feigned surprise,
And turn to face Robin with hate-narrowed eyes.]
Will/Sheriff: Well might you ask, Hood! For your information,
I’m here to bring to these folks some cruel devastation!
Robin Hood [raising an eyebrow]: By giving them gifts they could never afford?
By seeing them happy and well-fed and warm?
I don’t see how you figure that, Sheriff of mine.
Will/Sheriff [flustered]: Well… I… it seemed like a bad idea at the time…
I’ve forgotten a step. What am I missing, Men?
Bedivere/Man-at-Arms Two: Give the peasants their presents, then take them again.
Will/Sheriff: Right! Yes! That was it! What think you of that, Hood?
Robin Hood: I think it’s high time you got out of Sherwood.
‘Tis a season of peace, so my asking’s polite.
You’ll leave quietly now, or it’s after a fight.
Will/Sheriff: Says you and what army? We’re three to your one!
Marion [poking her head out around the other side of the ladder-tree]: Shows how well he can count, doesn’t it, Little John?
[With the entrance of Marion and Little John behind,
Will Scarlet goes pale as honeydew rind.]
Allyn: Shouting curses most ill-befitting the day,
The Sheriff and posse quickly went away.
Little John [gaze following the exit of Will and the knights]: That one’s got naught of Christmas spirit at all.
Robin Hood [shrugging]: Methinks his heart may be two sizes too small.
Allyn: Thus it was the Sheriff, through no love of his own,
Made the loveliest Christmas one town had e’er known –
Proof that even malicious deeds may come to good
With some Christmas magic. …and, of course, Robin Hood.
“Aaaand SCENE!” says Will.
“Thank you to audience members Miranda McNeff and Tirzah Duncan,” says Allyn, “for providing us with the inspiration ‘noodles’ and ‘It seemed like a bad idea at the time…’”
“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!”