Review: King Arthur is ‘the show of the summer’

Magic, sword fighting and knights – King Arthur in action
27 Jul 2013 @ 7.52 pm
| News
Magic, sword fighting and knights – King Arthur in action
Magic, sword fighting and knights – King Arthur in action

Review: The Legend of King Arthur, York
Venue: York Theatre Royal, July 26

Legends are retold through each generation so when you go along to a production of King Arthur you never quite know how it will play out.

There are lots of boxes 11-year-old Sam and I wanted to have ticked though – magic, sword fighting and knights, romance and excitement. This production did not disappoint.

Throw into that mix some ribald medieval slapstick and a witty self-referential script, an engaging and talented ensemble of actors and musicians, a fantastic set and marvellous use of a flying hoop and you have got yourselves the show of the summer.

Make sure you arrive early (at least half an hour, longer if you want to cool down in the stocks). There is a quest to follow which I urge young and old to do. It is a thrill being back stage, there is a lake where the lady appears, you see the dragon and the dungeon. It made us feel like we were in the castle at Camelot.

Fantastic production – the King Arthur cast
Fantastic production – the King Arthur cast
Heroism and romance – everything you need from a legendary story
Heroism and romance – everything you need from a legendary story

Stop too to hear the wandering storytellers and musicians. If juniors have been involved in the jousting school earlier in the day (check theatre royal for details) you get to go up on stage in the second half to be knighted.

The young Arthur, Lancelot, Gwenevere and Morgana are all very talented local
youngsters. The night we went Ross Hunter was playing Arthur. His aerial acrobatics worked beautifully, he held himself like a dancer and I delighted in the moment he seemed to transform as he learnt to “see everything, stay calm”.

Merlin guides us from the modern world to the magic of Camelot. Matthew Rixon gives a masterly performance as the flawed wizard. Sam did particularly like the humour when he joined in the mummers play as the doctor.

The actors played all the instruments and gave a feel of a travelling company. The chorus moved the story along and the singing was strong and at times very haunting.

Another of the scripts strengths is its wit and ability to prod the watcher into thinking about the life then and now. As a squire Arthur is a servant and treated with scorn, women get to voice the unfairness of the age – Morgana is the first born to a king but never considered an heir, Gwenevere spends her whole life practicing to be queen and then finds she has nothing to do except wait to be a damsel in distress. We leave the theatre realising we have choices in our
modern life.

This is a fantastic production and we urge you to go. Make a knight of it!


  • The Legend Of King Arthur is at York Theatre Royal until August 31. Performances at 2.30pm and 7pm
  • For more information go to the Theatre Royal website