Saturday, January 23, 2016

Camelot on the Couch: Was Lancelot "on the spectrum"?

Do you remember Baskins & Robbins Ice Cream Parlors?  They used to have a "flavor of the month".  Mmmmmmm..........   Hang on, now i need to go get some ice cream, brb.

OK, back.  But it's freezing cold in this castle, so i settled for some hot spiced wine instead.  Please ignore all subsequent spelling errors.  Thank you kindly.

On to the Character of the Week:  Let us now consider Lancelot du Lac.  Lance arrives "from far-off France", having heard The Call to join King Arthur and the knights of the Round Table.  His sincerity and dedication immediately win Arthur's heart, 

 You shall be my right-hand knight, Lance, but on my left.  Never did get that straight, whot?

but pretty much everything else about him drives everyone else up the wall:  he's FRENCH, but that's only the beginning!  He is the prototype Captain America: outrageously strong, fit, bold, 

 "I've never lost in battle or game; I'm simply the best by far....."

and so Pure of Heart that he makes the Eagle Scouts look like the Chippendales.  

"And here I stand as pure as a pray'r Incredibly clean, with virtue to spare The godliest man I know"

Now, here's the thing:  Lancelot is not some boastful, stuck up blowhard (think Gaston, for example, in Beauty & The Beast).  He really IS everything he says he is, but he's tone-deaf about it sounds to others.  He immediately riles the Queen (hate at first sight, who knew that trope was so old?!), who conspires to have him defeated at the jousts.  Things do not, however, go as planned, and in the end he makes good on his most far-fetched boast:  

"The soul of a knight should be a thing remarkable His heart and his mind as pure as morning dew With a will and a self-restraint That's the envy of ev'ry saint He could easily work a miracle or two"

So what's the problem here?

The problem is that Lance can't sustain his purity, when push comes to shove.  

Lancelot has lived his life as a man apart; obsessively devoted to bettering himself - trying to perfect himself - he admits to having shut out all others.  As long as he remains in his bubble, he's good to go, remaining as saintly as he wishes to be.

We needed a cat here, don't you think?

But in Camelot, through his fierce devotion to Arthur, he is exposed to Queen Guenivere,  and he soon discovers that he is NOT the equal of his ideals:

"To love and desire he ought to be unsparkable The ways of the flesh should offer no allure"

Lancelot falls in love with Guenevere, and even though - as befits the time and place - there is no indication that they ever consumate that love, Lancelot has, in one fell stroke, pretty much committed the ultimate betrayal:
Fallen in love with a married woman
Who is the wife of his best friend
And who is the Queen of his country.

Talk about the trifecta.  

I wonder quite a bit about what happens to Lancelot after the events depicted in the show.  Does he live the rest of his life consumed with shame?  Full of self-hatred and regret?  Does he forgive himself, or try to find salvation via some noble quest?  There is that whole Holy Grail thing, but that's out of the scope of the show.

I love how bored the squire appears to be.  Rehearsals get me feeling like that sometimes, too.

Here's something to contemplate in your spare time:  is it possible that Lance was somewhere along the spectrum of Asperger's disease, just a little bit autistic?  Here's what Wikipedia has to say about the disorder:  Asperger syndrome (AS), also known as Asperger's syndrome, Asperger disorder (AD) or simply Asperger's, is an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) that is characterized by significant difficulties in social interaction and nonverbal communication, alongside restricted and repetitive patterns of behavior and interests.
There is his single-minded, obsessive devotion to achieving perfection (and to perfecting Chivalry, as well). There is his difficulty in understanding the emotions and reactions of others.  His social isolation.  
If this is so, then his attraction to Jenny is all the more excruciating, on an epic scale.  King Arthur is a tragic figure in many ways, but when you think about it.....  it's really Lancelot whose story breaks your heart.  
Coming up next:  Camelot on the Couch looks at his majesty KING ARTHUR!  
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


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