Theatre Review: “I Feel Guilty About Not Feeling Guilty”

review

kc-fringe-logo“Camelot is Crumbling”, written and produced by Maximum Verbosity (part of the KC Fringe Festival): seen July 24, 2011

When I was let into the Fishtank for “Camelot is Crumbling”, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. The small space had a modern day wheelchair, a couple of tables, and regular chairs. The preshow music was a series of Judy Garland songs that it wasn’t until afterward that I realized all were war songs. And the program had a Chaucer-like drawing on the front, a Latin quote in the inner cover, and an excerpt in Olde English of Mordred and Arthur’s last battle.

“Camelot is Crumbling” is the story of the fall of Camelot, presented by phillip low {sic} as both Lancelot, telling the ‘true tale’ of what exactly went down before the fall of Camelot, and as Morded, talking to an invisible dying Arthur explaining his side of the story.

It was this idea, of the fall of Camelot, that drew me to the story: I’ve been a casual fan of the various iterations of the story of Arthur and his knights since I was young, from everything from Monty Python and the Holy Grail to Marion Zimmer Bradley’s The Mists of Avalon, although I never have read Mallory’s Le Morte d’Arthur, which is the inspiration of this piece.

The conflicting styles of the pre-show continued, as low plays both characters in both modern day fatigues and a “Jesus Loves Me” t-shirt as Mordred and a World War II (I think) style long coat (but with a cassette player) as Lancelot.

low does an awesome job of flipping from one character to the other, with short segues of transformation being hidden by the voiceovers of Charlie Bethel as Sir Gawain, speaking of those last days of that one brief shining moment that was known as Camelot. Lancelot is, as to be expected, more proper and more driven by the fire of wanting to do what is right. Mordred, however, with a genteel Southern accent, is more concerned with explaining how he was just the victim of his blood – “that Pendragon blood” – and being scapegoated for pointing out Arthur’s failings as a king and husband.

The production delves into our reasons for doing things, and the reasons for war. “Peace is just an image”, Mordred (if I remember right) states, and I’m not sure he’s wrong. After all, history is measured by the battles, not by the quiet.

But in the end, while I was impressed with low’s acting, I just wasn’t that moved by the piece as a whole. It got a little too pretentious for me, delving into spoken word and poetry, becoming too aware of itself as a presentation and the acting in it. If low could dial the ending down a smidge, I think it really has a chance to shine.

“Camelot is Crumbling” has three more performances, and tickets are $10. More information can be found at http://www.kcfringe.org/2011/artist.php?ID=84.

This review has been posted to the KC Stage review system. Agree or disagree? You can rate / review this show yourself (requires free registration) by going to fringe.kcstage.com (where every review gets you put into a drawing for prizes).

  • Hey there! phillip low here — just wanting to take a moment to express my gratitude for your seeing the show, and for taking the time to compose a thoughtful review. See you at Fringe!