2016 has, so far, seen many a demise of our favourite performers. One of these being Alan Rickman: Professor Snape to some, Marvin the Android to few, Hans Gruber and Metatron to others and The Sheriff of Nottingham (George) to many.
To commemorate his death, The Maze here in Nottingham decided to host a public viewing of Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves and serve mead.
It was free entry and because of popularity you had to ‘book’ in advance in order to get a seat. Costumes were optional and some had turned up in head gear, re-enactors tunics, cloaks and head dresses. There was even one fella with a wooden spoon giving out impressions of Rickman’s Sheriff.
I hadn’t seen the film in years and it was Greyeyes’ idea to go…. Plus she had NEVER seen it before. She was put off by the Bryan Adams song that was played almost constantly back in 1991. It was like No.1 for 16 weeks or something like that. I don’t think either of us were prepared for the interaction that followed.
The audience loved it! They jeered as the film came on, laughed in all the right places, called out Rickman’s lines (as well as adding many others to various parts of the film) “…and cancel Christmas!” Brian Blessed impressions from the Black Adder TV series were bounded out as well.
Yes, we know Nottingham isn’t anywhere near the white cliffs of Dover, neither is it 5 miles away from Hadrian’s wall. The Nottingham accent is neither American or West Country, but that didn’t matter. It all added to the joy of seeing this version, my generation’s version of the Robin Hood story. Costner’s Robin was brave, cheeky and seemed have a permanent smirk on his face as though toying with his enemies.
We laughed as The Sheriff repeatedly punched, walked away and punched his guard some more. We shusshed as it came to Robin and Marian’s romantic scene then laughed when someone shouted out “Slip her the tongue!” We cheered when Robin Errol Flynned his way into the chapel; we booed as the Bishop made his appearance and howled as the witch said the infamous line “Something vexes thee?” Then we cheered when she was killed by ‘The Painted Man’.
Not even the film jarring twice stopped our enjoyment, they were taken as ‘More Mead!’ breaks and added to the camaraderie felt in the club. The mead did run out however as the bar had underestimated how popular it would have been. Not their fault, especially when mead isn’t a drink they usually serve.
What really made the night for me was the audience, it was like something out of The Rocky Horror Show, I got the feeling that this was what it must have been like going to the theatre back in Shakespearean times. Waiting for your favourite bit, cheering on your favourite character (mine, incidentally, was Morgan Freeman’s Hasim; a really wise, deep and brave man…. Especially when he was praying to Allah as Robin was in trouble, genius!) and laughing at the comedy. It wasn’t just watching a movie, it was enjoying it and going with all the Hollywood mistakes of this English legend, it was theatre. Bawdy, raucous theatre for the 21st Century.
And almost everyone stayed and sang the song at the end. Bloody good show!