Michael Morpurgo’s King Arthur review at Gilded Balloon, Edinburgh – ‘enthralling’

King Arthur at the Gilded Balloon, Edinburgh. Photo: Matthew Kaltenborn
King Arthur at the Gilded Balloon, Edinburgh. Photo: Matthew Kaltenborn

Pursuing presentation of traditional stories with darker themes as children's drama, Story Pocket Theatre's production of Michael Morpurgo's versions of the Arthurian legends – Arthur, High King of Britain and The Sleeping Sword – is finely crafted and totally enthralling.

When a young man finds himself crowned King Arthur, he embarks on legendary adventures with Lancelot, Gwain and other heroes, experiencing betrayal by Guinevere and secret offspring Mordred, while often challenged by Merlin's brooding presence and the mysterious Lady of the Lake.

Compelling physical theatre bulks large as authentically garbed knights engage in realistic sword-play and pole-duels across large stones, while George Jennings' poetic songs offer peaceful contrast.

Nigel Munson is a powerfully effective Green Knight and Mordred, while Otis Waby is a turbulent Lancelot and Mackenzie Scott a dedicated Gwain. Sarine Sofair brings elegant grace to Guinevere and Lady of the Lake, and Thomas Gilbey is zestful as young Arthur. David Gant excels as Merlin and Storyteller, endowing Morpurgo's magically rich language with quasi-Shakespearean feeling.

Gwain and the Green Knight is very impressively worked and the drama portrays heroism, betrayal, feasting and violence perfectly for over-sevens (younger ones present are captivated, too). Story Pocket gives a masterclass in serious theatre for older children.

Verdict
Enthralling, high-quality adaptation of Michael Morpurgo's King Arthur for older children
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