Extra tension is, understandably, something that many will want to avoid right now. But for those whose nerves are up to it, Slung Low’s short film – the first project with its new community division Leeds People’s theatre, directed by Brett Chapman – is a taut 28 minutes of intrigue and action.
In its clash of near-future dystopia and Arthurian legend, James Phillips’s script imagines patriotic nostalgia taken to extremes. It’s 10 years after a revolution in which Queen Bear seized power, claiming to carry the spirit of King Arthur. Britain is now on the brink of civil war, as Queen Bear’s authority is challenged by the followers of Galahad. Stuck in the middle of these two factions, protagonist Avalon is struggling with what to believe.
As Avalon, Riana Duce is a compelling focal point for the drama, saying little but communicating volumes. Angus Imrie also makes an impression as the enigmatic Geraint, who enters Avalon’s life out of nowhere and joins her on a dangerous mission to save a special volume from Galahad’s book-burning purists. Beneath it all, Heather Fenoughty’s score and Matt Angove’s sound design generate a constant rumble of unease.
For a dystopian narrative, The Good Book is mercifully short on exposition. It occupies the same fictional territory as Phillips and Slung Low’s 2015 show Camelot, but there’s no barrier of entry for those – like me – who didn’t see that production. The script is light on detail about the political situation, but it’s all the more unsettling to know so little about what either the Queen or her enemies stand for. Like Avalon, viewers are left in the dark, not knowing which way to turn.
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Source: The Guardian