The play opens on a funeral, being held for an infamous thief named Robin Hood. Unfortunately, no one can think of a good eulogy. Alan-a-Dale finally steps forward, but seems to be at a loss for words.
A month earlier, Alan arrives back in the village of Loxley, after a three month absence. He is greeted by an old friend, John Little, who tells him of the state of Loxley. Since Alan’s departure, a new Sheriff has been appointed. While brutal and efficient, his wife, Lady Marian, is a kind hearted soul and her new maid happens to be Ellen Scatheloke, the little sister of Alan’s best friend Will. John takes Alan to Will’s house where they find the Sheriff interrogating him for stealing tax money. Alan quickly jumps in, blaming the theft on an infamous thief named Robin Hood. The tale he weaves is enough to free a less than grateful Will, but once away from the Sheriff, Alan, Will, and John fret over how to make the story convincing.
To help make Robin seem more realistic, Alan writes a letter from Robin, sending it to the Sheriff. The Sheriff is enraged by the taunt. Meanwhile, his bored wife Marian is captivated by the idea of a rogue in the village. Ellen, however, recognizes Alan’s handwriting and quickly returns home. She sends Will and John off to distribute the stolen tax money to the villagers, before Will can be caught and executed. Alan and Ellen share a tense reunion. Although Alan was meant to go off on the Crusades, he became a minstrel instead and Ellen feels deeply betrayed, as the two of them were lovers at the time.
While the story of Robin Hood begins to spread, leading the Sheriff to suspect that Alan is the real thief, all Alan can think of is Ellen. He writes her a love letter, but it falls into Marian’s hands. Recognizing the handwriting as Robin’s, Marian begins to fall in love. The Sheriff, meanwhile, takes the letter as a personal attack and sets a trap to capture Robin Hood, hosting an archery contest and offering five hundred pounds to the winner. John, now in love with being a hero, insists that Alan and Will enter. Alan wins, igniting the Sheriff’s suspicions, but Ellen steps in at the last second, disguised as Robin Hood, and splits Alan’s arrow in half. As pandemonium breaks out, Marian begs Ellen to arrange a meeting for her with Robin Hood.
Alan and Ellen meet with Will and John. Ellen begs Alan to visit Marian as Robin, promising to forgive him for leaving her, if he does. Alan reluctantly agrees. Unfortunately, Marian becomes so enthralled, she begs Alan to rescue her from her life. Ellen tricks Alan into agreeing. Alone, they exchange angry words where Alan tearfully reveals the reason he never went on the Crusades is he considers himself a coward. Ellen comforts him and the two of them admit they’re both still in love. The next morning, they talk John into helping them rescue Marian. Will, however, wants no part of it and angrily leaves.
Ellen sneaks John and Alan, both disguised as Robin Hood, into the palace, but their plans are fouled up by Will, also disguised as Robin Hood, robbing the treasury. While John carries Marian off, begging her to hide in a convent, Alan and Ellen rescue Will. The angry Will turns on Alan and nearly kills him, letting out his rage over the fact that Alan left him behind. As they make their escape, they reconcile, but also realize that Robin Hood must die in order for them to live. They stage a murder for the Sheriff, Will pretending to kill Alan, dressed up as Robin Hood. The Sheriff agrees to pardon all of Will’s trespasses, in exchange for the disposal of Robin Hood.
In the end, Alan delivers his eulogy for Robin Hood; as spontaneous and made up as the man himself.