Review: ‘Marian, True Tale of Robin Hood’ tastefully blends comedy and LGBTQIA+ representation

Jasmyn Ramirez and Sara Leon

The Theater Arts Department’s first show this semester, “Marian, True Tale of Robin Hood,” is a gender-bending comedic new take on a classic children’s story “Robin Hood.”

Little John and Maid Marian share a meaningful kiss as she is dying from a shot from a bow and arrow.
Little John (Andrew Turpit) and Maid Marian (Bella Zuniga) share a meaningful kiss near the end of the performance. Photo credit: Matthew Patterson

Secretly under the guise of Robin Hood, Maid Marian helps high-ranking woman of the kingdom Alanna Dale disguise herself as a Merry Man on a journey to steal from the greedy Prince John. Throughout the play, the audience can see different kinds of relationships develop between the characters, while also watching them figure out their own identities and pronouns. The play focuses on LGBTQIA+ representation, and many of the show’s relationships reflect that.

Bella Zuniga, the actor who plays Marian/Robin Hood, had a difficult task with taking on two characters at once, but they pulled it off without a problem. Zuniga showcases stage combat well in their third production at Fullerton College.

Will Scarlet and Alan-A-Dale
Romantic tension builds as Will Scarlett (L Castro) and Alanna Dale (Ellie Colonese) wrestle. Photo credit: Matthew Patterson

Diversity, equity, and inclusion director Ellie Luke did an incredible job with the diverse cast of actors. “There are a lot of people who don’t know how a lot of queer people live, and I think there’s a lot of people who are just unaware,” said Luke, “And we as artists create art not only for the people in our community, but for those people who might not have heard of terms such as nonbinary or terms such as transgender. I think that we create art in order for people to not only understand, but to learn.”

Robin Hood and the Merry Men’s mission is to steal from the rich and give to the poor. The show’s antagonist, Prince John, holds the view that men are better than women, which causes much of the show’s conflict. This makes for great fight scenes that keep the audience on the edge of their seats.

“We learned a lot of new things like, falling six feet into a pit, learning a whole bunch of stage combat things and learning how to use four different types of swords” said Natalie Johnston, who plays a guard in the Royal Court.

Little John and Robin Hood play around fight to see who is strongest.
Little John (Andrew Turpit) and Robin Hood (Bella Zuniga) play-fight to see who is strongest. Photo credit: Matthew Patterson

“I’m a big fan of stage violence. It’s the place where words fail, and it’s the most extreme set of circumstances that we can put ourselves under in terms of that violence. And then you add comedy.” says Michael Mueller, the show’s director. “I’m a big comedic violence fan, all the way back to the silent era stuff like Charlie Chaplin. So being able to incorporate funny moments of violence that we all know and love, but also to find new ways to sort of create the same kind of comedic effect, is something that’s near and dear to me.”

Actor Ellie Colonese plays Alanna Dale, who is tasked with fourth wall breaking narration and first class acting. This was her first production at Fullerton College. Actor Nathaniel Baesel, as Prince John, stole the show with his performance of Prince John. I was fully invested in Baesel’s performance as the evil Price John.

Prince John and the Sheriff having a conversation
Prince John (Nate Baesel) and the Sheriff (Alejandro Reynoso) discuss their plans. Photo credit: Matthew Patterson

Other characters introduced are Will Scarlett, Alanna Dale’s love interest, who also struggles with identity issues and self-love. Much the Millers Son, who uses they/them pronouns, represents the struggle that many people who don’t want to be labeled feel today.

This is a modern version of Robin Hood, where all actors deserve roses for their performances. The play opened last night, and has two performances left: tonight, Oct. 7 and tomorrow, Oct. 8 both at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $16 presale and $19 at the door.