SALT LAKE CITY — The Sons of Arthur (directed by Rose Allen and Daniel Barton) is a retelling of the 14th century poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. The set is simple, with a large rug taking up much of the floor, a single chair and a cushioned stool which is perfect as the characters spend most of their time either fighting (choreographed by Hunter Aro) or walking around.
In The Sons of Arthur, Morgana (played by Rose Allen) hypnotizes King Arthur (played by Marie Jacobs), and then the Green Knight (played by Andrew-Elijah Schindler) appears and demands to fight. Gawain (played by Alison Rino) happily obliges by cutting off his head, forcing the Green Knight to demand that the favor be returned. King Arthur forces his son to go, in the name of honor, and the adventure begins when Mordred (played by Tommy Brown) announces he will go to keep him safe.
Perhaps because The Sons of Arthur is a retelling, there doesn’t seem to be any tension or stakes. The characters are not surprised by anything that happens, nor do they put up any resistance for a good chunk of the story. Such as when they come across the forest folk, and the Lord (played by Andrew-Elijah Schindler) tells Gawain that whatever favor he receives in his home, he must pay back to him. This situation culminates into sex with both the Lord and Lady (played by Rose Allen) which, due to the casting choices (Gawain is played by a non-binary performer), feels queer but also empty. Gawain just accepts everything that is happening to him, and has no problem fulfilling his part of the bargain, even as Mordred protests and cautions his brother to resist.
The most emotionally salient moments in The Sons of Arthur involve King Arthur himself. The king is old, cruel and nearly senile. He tells Mordred that the only thing he can do for him is either die for Camelot or leave, because he is a bastard born to the witch Morgana out of wedlock. Arthur’s quickness to anger is seen when Morgana tells him that Gawain had a sash protecting him from harm, which is how he survived the Green Knight. In his rage, Arthur demands Mordred slay his brother as illness prevents him from cutting down his favored son. It’s the play’s most compelling interaction, and The Sons of Arthur would be more successful if there were more character-driven moments like this.
Many technical elements (designed by Rino and Andrew-Elijah Schindler) help solidify the fantasy elements. The sound design is excellent and includes the steps of a giant, running water, rain, and monster snarls. Dim, blue lights are used to indicate darkness, and later green lights are used when the Green Knight appears to fight Gawain. The costuming (created by Genevene Schindler) is simple: all the men wear boots and tights, Morgana wears all black, and the Lady is in a dress. The Green Knight has the most elaborate costume with a large helmet, with matching green and brown attire.
While not a perfect show, The Sons of Arthur has some cool swordfights and costumes, and it is worth seeing to explore a medieval work of literature.