Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Camelot on the Couch: Mordred, the Snake in the Garden

What self-respecting drama doesn't have an evil villain? 

 Popeye and his Blutto.... Othello and his Iago..... Snow White and her evil stepmother.... Luke Skywalker and his Darth Vader..... The Roadrunner and his Wile E. Coyote....  the Transformers and the Autobots..... and so on and so forth.

Who can think "Thundercats" without going MUMMMMMRAAAHHHHHHHH?  We expect our villains to do mean, terrible things.

 Villains are violent, destructive; they lie, cheat, steal and kill. 

 (Or at least try to, until the Hero stops them.)  Villains are scary and awful and horrible (also, usually ugly).

Although not always.


Previous LOGON shows have featured some great villains.  In Oklahoma!, Judd tried to kill our Hero with a deadly kaleidoscope (extra points for creativity there, dude).  

Villains are often portrayed as wearing black... 

You might expect the story of King Arthur to have as a villain a big, evil knight - an antihero in coal black armor and an ugly visor on his helmet, a vicious hulk who goes thwacking about killing innocent damsels and small furry animals....  But you would be wrong.  The villain of Camelot describes himself as "free and happy little me".  And goes about unarmed. And throughout the play - strikes noone, tells no lies, steals nothing, doesn't even dip a girl's braid in the inkwell.  Yet he manages to completely destroy Camelot. How does he DO that?

The answer is: with psychological judo.  That is to say, Mordred doesn't have to DO anything bad TO anyone else.... he just sets them up to give in to their own weaknesses. Morgan La Fey likes Arthur, and doesn't like Mordred, yet Mordred gets her to trap Arthur behind an invisible wall... with a little bribe.

Mordred will not trick or force Lancelot and Gueneviere to do what they do..... he only provides the opportunity.  He opens the door.... but they walk through it, under their own steam and of their own free will.  Mordred will trap King Arthur into a no-win scenerio (think Kobayashi Maru),  assisted by Arthur's dogged determination to be civilized.... but - at least in the confines of the play - he never raises his hand against Arthur.   

Mordred is a most terrifying villain, not because he will destroy you - but because he will make it so very, very easy for you to destroy yourself.  And aren't we all, in the final analysis, our own worst enemies?