After Launcelot and Guenever, I had a discussion with a fellow Fringe-goer as to how hard I should be on this challenging, sometimes mystifying production.
Here was my argument: While much of the plot eluded me and I found the poor casting to be distracting—it’s not that the central performers are bad at acting, it’s that they’re so miscast they have a near-impossible time successfully evoking their characters—this is clearly a show created by and for people who are deep into the Arthurian legends. (A note on the program cover explains, “This is quite late in the Camelot mythos…”) While it’s hard to recommend for a general audience, Launcelot and Guenever might please viewers who are so well-acquainted with the legends that they can appreciate the sophisticated script by Phillip Andrew Bennett Low (a Daily Planet Fringe blogger) and the investigation of a little-known episode in the timeless love triangle among Arthur (Philip D. Henry), his queen (Heather Burmeister), and his #1 knight (Aaron Preusse).
Her was my fellow Fringe-goer’s answer: She knows the Arthur story. She considers herself a huge nerd. (“You don’t even know how many times I’ve watched the Lord of the Rings movies.”) She really wanted to enjoy Launcelot and Guenever—and yet, director Jenna Papke’s production doesn’t seem aware of how inaccessible it is. Ponderous and pretentious (my paraphrase), the show remains frustratingly opaque.
Two things we agreed on: (a) Singing sorceress Jill Iverson was great; (b) putting the royals in pleated slacks and the knights in distressed designer jeans was a very silly idea.
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