Sunday, January 17, 2016

Camelot on the Couch: The Queen and the Monkey's Paw

It's not really her fault.  Guenevere lived a very sheltered life; we are told that her trip to marry King Arthur is actually the first time in her life that she has been allowed out of the castle.  She is a "good girl"; as she sings to Saint Genevieve, "you must admit I've always been a lamb".  

 OK, not such a lamb in this painting.  In fact, here she looks more like Cersei Lannister.  Let's try again.

Much better. 

When we first meet Guenevere, she is awash in the romantic fantasies common to her era (this would be a good time to go back and read the blog entries "It's Complicated", parts 1,2 and 3, from 2013).  She sings of "the simple joys of maidenhood": 

Where are the simple joys of maidenhood?
Where are all those adoring daring boys?
Where's the knight pining so for me
he leaps to death in woe for me?
Shan't I have the normal life a maiden should?
Shall I never be rescued in the wood?

Shall two knights never tilt for me 
and let their blood be spilt for me?
Shall I not be on a pedestal, 
Worshipped and competed for?
Not be carried off, or better st'll,
Cause a little war?
Shall a feud not begin for me?
Shall kith not kill their kin for me?
Oh where are the trivial joys?
Harmless, convivial joys?
Where are the simple joys of maidenhood?

Delightful, no?  But this song actually sets up the entire sad story of Guenevere: she never read "The Monkey's Paw", and never learned the great truth: Be careful what you wish for, for you may get it.   [Note: DO NOT read "The Monkey's Paw" while home alone on a dark and stormy night.]

Pictured: Not a monkey paw.  But a paw.  At least that.

Our Queen is a simple girl at heart.  Her one stab at rebellion - she tries to flee before actually meeting Arthur - ends in a whimper, as she is charmed by the loveliness of Camelot and the delightful man/boy King.  Later on, she will torment the King by willfully trying to undermine the dashing Lancelot; the psychologist wonders if, at that point, she is simply jealous of the close relationship he seems to have with Arthur.  

Years go by and many things happen (trying not to inject too many spoilers into the blog!), but in the end, Guenevere will be rescued (as she dreamed, though not in a wood) and she will, in fact, cause a 'little war' --- and discover that it isn't nearly as much fun as she thought it would be.  In fact, it will be a terrible thing, bringing the dream of Camelot crashing down upon King Arthur:

Guenevere, Guenevere
In that dim, mournful year
Saw the men she held most dear
Go to war for Guenevere

 The original Knight on a White Horse - to the rescue

Guenevere is NOT evil.  She is naive, she is a bit shallow (in her youth, at the least), she's not even too smart, but she is loyal, decent, and good.  Unfortunately, this will not be enough to save the realm, or her happiness, and therein lies a deep layer of tragedy.

The LOGON production of CAMELOT opens in Beer Sheva on March 3!  

Tickets and performance information at LOGON Hotline 08-6414081 or at

Performances in Beer Sheva, Jerusalem, Kfar Saba, Netanya, Rechovot, Haifa, and Modi'in

1 comment:

  1. Ah Guenevere, what a dame! LOGON's Guenevere will be all of the above and much more. If you liked the blog, you'll love the show.