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Camelot: The Shining City

Camelot: The Shining City. Photo: Mark Douet Camelot: The Shining City. Photo: Mark Douet

A jet of flame shoots into the sky. Smoke scents the air. This collaboration between Sheffield People’s Theatre and Slung Low is epic: trucks and guns, explosions, a cast of 150, a show which spills from the Crucible Theatre into Tudor Square and then out into the streets of Sheffield. There is a choir. There is a gun fight. Things go boom. It is a bold, city-filling, thrilling spectacle.

James Philips’s fable-like play is a reworking and revisiting of Arthurian legend. Bear, the war daughter of a renowned general, becomes a leader of the people, a figurehead, symbol of hope, symbol of England. She has her wizard, she has her knights. It’s a complex, often contradictory text, sometimes rich and poetic, sometimes as subtle as a knuckle duster, but full of ideas to unpick.

Alan Lane’s production contains some truly extraordinary moments: a crowd of people roaring for hope, ominous waves of riot police, a march through the streets at twilight, the city’s buildings burnished as the sun sets. Civil war has come to Sheffield.

The play asks questions about faith, fanaticism and the nature of leadership. Steeped in English myth, there are playful traces of Game of Thrones here – though Tia Bannon, making her professional debut, is much cooler than the glacial Daenerys: confident, commanding but still human beneath it all. The action follows a three-act structure, the first of which, staged within the Crucible itself, is a bit stiff. But once we leave the building behind the whole thing erupts.

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An epic reworking of Arthurian legend on the streets of Sheffield