The Rise of General Arthur” might be more appropriatly titled “The Coming of Age of Lance- Corporal Pellinore.”
Author/performer Phillip Low adapts some classic Arthurian literature about the young Pellinore (future knight of King Arthur’s Round Table) and time-shifts him to the first Iraq War (Desert Storm), where we learn of his departure from home after his father’s death, his pursuit of a dangerous beast, his fight with a man he fails to realize is General Arthur, his receipt of guidance from Merlin, and his killing of King Lot.
The idea is intriguing but the result is disappointing. On balance, the transition to the modern military world does not add much that is new to the stories or the themes of idealism, heroism, and loyalty. Low does make Pellinore an interesting young country Marine, but the character does not evolve much during these episodes. These stories probably are better read than heard, as the narration can be a little dense at times.
As far as the performance, Low is below average as a professional storyteller. He often speaks very fast and loud without much variety in his vocalizations. In parts, he is too wedded to the script.
I applaud the novelty of the endeavor and appreciate the scholarship involved in developing the work. But this fan of Arthurian literature wishes it was more entertaining.
The Rise of General Arthur
presented by maximum velocity
reviewed by Steven McKnight
audience member Sat afternoon says
Well worth seeing! I disagree with the official reviewer; Andrew Low is a terrific storyteller, using a mellow voice and expressive body language to evoke the characters. The creative melding of ancient myth that has informed our ideas of what loyalty and war are about is thought provoking. A performance to inspire reflection and a playwright and performer to watch for in the future. Only two more chances this Fringe to see him – I think you should go!
phillip andrew bennett low says
Hey hey — just wanted to thank you for the taking the time to come out and see the show. I’m sorry I wasn’t able to entertain you with this one, and I hope the next one I bring to DC is more to your liking!