Death by sword fight

King Arthur

A king, a sword and not nearly enough death for the blood-thirsty little kid critics.

A king, a sword and not nearly enough death for the blood-thirsty little kid critics.


King Arthur, 8 p.m. on July 8, 13, 15, 20, 22 and 27; $15-$18, children 6-12 are free. Sacramento Shakespeare Festival at the William A. Carroll Amphitheatre in William Land Park, Land Park Drive and 15th Avenue; Gates open at 6:30 p.m.; bring lawn chairs and blankets. Through July 27.

William A. Carroll Amphitheatre

3901 Land Park Dr.
Sacramento, CA 95822

(916) 558-2173

Rated 4.0

A cool summer night, a stage, a pair of fools in motley making off-color jokes about bodily functions and a bunch of sword-swinging knights and ladies—what more could one want?

“More people should die in a sword fight,” said the very young man behind me. “But at least they make a lot of sword noise.”

So that’s it—more death. Otherwise, this original play by the Sacramento Shakespeare Festival’s director, Luther Hanson, foots the bill quite nicely. King Arthur opened this year’s Sacramento Shakespeare Festival and runs in repertory with Shakespeare’s The Comedy of Errors through July 29, in the amphitheater in William Land Park.

Hanson’s King Arthur is written “in the style of Shakespeare,” which might portend something far worse than this abridged (and incestless, as befits a family show) version of the probably mythical English king’s life. The play features a very young and handsome king (Brent Bianchini) dealing with the affection between his wife, Lady Guenevere (Breanna Reilly) and his best friend, Sir Lancelot (Rob August-Norton), while the real threat to his kingdom comes from his scheming sister Morgan (Sara Lorraine Hanson, in an outstanding performance) and her demanding and rather stupid son, Mordred (Anthony M. Person).

It’s easy to argue with some of Hanson’s choices—for example, a meaner, smarter, more venal Mordred is more in keeping with the tradition, but it wouldn’t provide much comic relief. This is all about accessibility and fun; that means clanking swords, plenty of running in and out, and the bad guys (and gals) getting skewered.

Oh, did I mention that the ladies—including Guenevere—take up arms and fight? There are also female knights at this round table. Yes, Hanson has taken some liberties with the Bard, but they’re good ones for a summer night in a park with a lot of kids watching—even if those children do expect more people to die in a sword fight.