Green Knight

A one-woman dramatic monologue performed with great storytelling skills, Green Knight is an enthralling show. Debbie Cannon, the writer and actor, holds the audience in the palm of her hand as she takes the well-known mediaeval story, full of magical ‘fairie’ set at the time of King Arthur, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, and re-tells it from Gawain’s would-be seducer’s point of view with a great blend of drama, humour and atmosphere created by scene-setting mediaeval music.

Skilfully building up the tension, with humorous moments and unexpected twists, it is not only a seduction of Sir Gawain but of the audience too as they are beguiled and teased.

But first she muses on being a woman who is of no interest to men now she’s old, at all of forty. The relevance of this to the main story will become clear later. She is ‘considering being holy’ and entering the order of Saint Catherine so after tonight no one will hear her story – she adds disparagingly – but God, hence her burning desire to tell us.

Debbie now launches into a spine-tingling rendition of the tale of the Green Knight, a giant with green skin and red eyes who arrives at the court of King Arthur with a challenge taken up by Sir Gawain, the purest and as yet untested Knight of the Round Table. Playing all parts, varying her accent or producing a gruff low voice for males, Debbie also uses various props in an amusing way to represent characters, an upturned brass bowl on her head when she plays King Arthur, a white tablecloth as a gown, or a green apple for Gawain.

The story now takes, in Debbie’s words ‘a more sophisticated turn’ as we learn how the two strands, the old woman about to become a nun and the tale of the Green Knight, intertwine.

As Gawain nears the chapel where he must meet the Green Knight and his fate, he is invited to stay in a castle nearby and for three nights he must undergo another test: of his famed purity. It is, of course, our old woman story-teller, as a young woman and lady of the castle, who tries to seduce him. We learn of her father’s disparagement of her as a girl compared to her brother who will become famous in battle. Forced to marry her father’s choice, she is determined that she too will be famed for her own triumphs, not as a warrior but as a seducer.

Skilfully building up the tension, with humorous moments and unexpected twists, it is not only a seduction of Sir Gawain but of the audience too as they are beguiled and teased. The story ends in her feelings of betrayal, as she sees it, by her father, husband and witch-like mother-in-law and by the perfect knight himself, who turns out to be all too human.

Reviews by Stephanie Green

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Performances

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The Blurb

A monstrous green knight interrupts the Christmas feast at King Arthur's court to issue an unwinnable challenge. A year later, one of Arthur's knights sets out to take up the challenge and finds himself tested not only by the monster, but also by a young wife with her own game to play. In this one-woman show, the story of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is retold by the woman at its heart, seizing, for the first time, the chance to offer her take on the age of Camelot and the game of love.

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