Sign up for our weekly newsletter
TRCH Robin Hood

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

23 January 09 words: Adrian Bhagat
A green giant challenges King Arthur's knights to hit him with a razor-sharp axe but afterwards they must agree to be struck in return


Sir Gawain and King Arthur

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is an old Christmas tale, probably written around 1400, set in Arthurian England. During celebrations at Camelot, a green giant appears. You might expect a green giant to hand out tins of sweetcorn; instead this one challenges King Arthur's knights to hit him with a razor-sharp axe but afterwards they must agree to be struck in return. Only Sir Gawain, the weakest of the knights, is prepared to take the challenge and he cuts the giant's head clean off but through some magic he is not dead. Sir Gawain must wait a year and then seek out the green knight to receive his blow. As the following Christmas approaches, Gawain sets off and faces many challenges to both his courage and virtue before finding the giant and bravely offering his neck to the axe.

Sir Gawain and seductress!The language in Simon Armitage's adaptation of the original story is beautiful and Shakespearian. Nottingham-based theatre company New Perspectives have taken the poem and created a very entertaining piece in which four very talented actors pretend to be amateurs performing the play. The humour generated by this device is a nice accompaniment to the central tale of a virtuous man encountering challenges and learning about his own moral fallibility. Although the story is a little slow at first, in the second half it is totally engaging and in the end both clever and poignant. However, the real joy of this production lies not in reaching the end but in witnessing a wonderful, ancient tradition of story-telling with action, narration and puppetry. The giant's costume is pretty cool too.

This play is advertised as being suitable for families and, whilst it is a beautiful story, the detailed descriptions and re-enactment of the butchering of hunted animals were enough to turn the stomach of my girlfriend, a horror-film devotee, so I would think twice before taking young children. However, for everyone else this production is charming and entertaining and absolutely should not be missed.

Sir Gawain and The Green Knight plays at the Lakeside Arts Centre until Saturday 31st January 2009 as part of a national tour.




We have a favour to ask…

LeftLion is Nottingham’s meeting point for information about what’s going on in our city, from the established organisations to the grassroots. We want to keep what we do free to all to access, but increasingly we are relying on revenue from our readers to continue. Can you spare a few quid each month to support us?

Support LeftLion now