I just went with my family to Medieval Times for the first time and it was insane. It felt like a two-hour fever dream. Was there really a castle inside a mall, just past Best Buy? And inside were there really 750 people of every age and ethnicity sitting around a smoke-filled arena watching men on horseback joust? What!?
At first I was mortified. I immediately took my crown off after it was placed on my head upon entering, embarrassed that ANYONE would take me for a willing participant in such silliness. But for some reason, within 15 minutes I was asking my sister “Hey, where’s my crown? I look ridiculous without my crown on.” I was supporting my dude, the Blue Knight, clapping and waving my little blue flag when he rode by, along with my entire section. I was genuinely angry when the damn Yellow Knight eliminated him in the jousting tournament.
You see, it’s a different world in there and they do an amazing job of enveloping and engaging you early and continuously so that you lose your trepidation completely. It’s a world where grown men wear colored paper crowns and hurl impassioned yells at fake “knights,” where everyone eats roast chicken and drinks tomato soup without need of pesky utensils, and where you somehow get used to ordering Pepsi from the ridiculously-costumed waitstaff who address your group as “My Lords and Ladies.” You actually grow to expect it. I never would have thought it possible. When we’d first arrived I had felt so bad for the employees that they had to endure such humiliating working conditions. By the end of the show, I was almost ready to ask for an application.
The six knights could certainly work on their stage combat though. The jousting and sword fights made professional wrestling look like MMA. It was laughable – literally – and yet people still cheered and booed accordingly depending on the performance of their assigned champion. What the hell was going on? I was disappointed, especially after the truly impressive displays of horsemanship and falconry earlier in the show. It was insulting to the intelligence of a grown person, and yet . . .
Was I entertained? Amazingly, yes. It was effective storytelling in the vein of pantomime or Kabuki: clearly pretend and yet oddly compelling. And was I jealous of the red section when their knight was the last left standing? Perhaps. Who am I kidding, yes of course I was. It was so ridiculous, the Red Knight didn’t deserve to win. The Blue Knight did. Possibly the Green; man, that son of a seacook could ride a goddamn horse.