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Mort D’Arthur, RSC, at Courtyard Theatre

THIS new telling of the Arthur myth is epic in more ways than one - weighing in at just under four hours long.

THIS new telling of the Arthur myth is epic in more ways than one - weighing in at just under four hours long.

But it’s actually one of the best accounts of the legendary king that you’ll see.

What we’ve seen in recent years is a shining, less complex version of Camelot - the most recent adaptation being BBC’s family drama Merlin.

But this three-act play goes back to the tales of Medieval scholar Thomas Malory and it doesn’t pull its punches

All the moments that Hollywood fell in love with survive - the sword in the stone, Excalibur emerging from the lake and the quest for the Holy Grail.

But then there’s the dark side of the legend, a court that is rife with bloodshed, betrayal and revenge.

Remember the part where Arthur (a commanding Sam Troughton) orders the Herod-like slaughter of his nobles’ children. No?

What about Merlin (a spooky Forbes Masson) being trapped under a rock after trying to “take the maidenhood” of a nymph? Thought not.

Elsewhere Jonjo O’Neill makes a flawed and charismatic Launcelot and Kirsty Woodward convinces as Guenevere.

Having seen so many - admittedly effective - Shakespeare productions which blend the line between period and modern, it was refreshing to see that the chain mail stayed throughout.

From the flickering candles and choral chanting, through to the clash of battle, it captured the feel of Malory’s original text.

And having seen the young Arthurs, animated Arthurs, re-animated Arthurs and Arthurs based on “real historical events” - I’m looking at you Clive Owen - the RSC have gone for the best of the lot.

Here, for a limited period only, is The Once and Future King... as he once was.

 

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