MERLIN: The Untold Adventures (LA WEEKLY says GO!)
Merlin: The Untold Adventures at the Theatricum Botanicum
It is pre-Arthurian legend, set against the bloody backdrop of Britain’s history of invasions by the Romans from the south that wiped out the Druids and invasions from “barbarians” in the north until Arthur’s ascension to the throne.
Merlin: The Untold Adventures, written and directed by Ellen Geer, Artistic Director of the Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum, opened on July 20 after three years of research and writing and three weeks of rehearsing all 55 members of the cast and chorus. (See Trailer Here)
Of the plays Geer has written, adapted and/or directed, this is, so far, her magnum opus.
With Merlin: The Untold Adventures, she delved into Druid and Celtic lore to discover the deep and darker roots of the sorcerer who would guide Uther Pendragon (Aaron Hendry) and then his son, Arthur (Colin Simon), to the British throne.
This is not the romance of Camelot.
Combining elements from Geoffrey of Monmouth's “Historia Regum Britanniae,” biblical texts, Atlantis, Stonehenge and a clash of kings and dynasties, Geer uses a multitude of theatrical devices that befit the telling of this beloved yet convoluted myth.
This is Merlin’s story told by him, often cryptically as was his wont, of the burden he bore as the seer, the prophet, the magician, the “Wild Man of the Wood,” the sorcerer and the truth-teller who was to bring peace to England. Merlin was the last of the druids, the Celtic shaman, priest of nature, and keeper of knowledge, particularly of the arcane secrets.
Merlin: The Untold Adventures opens with the Ancient Merlin (Melora Marshall) advising Young Merlin (Lily Andrew) to introduce the young Merlin grappling with his identity. This is a time-traveler device that will crop up throughout the play to help Merlin carry his own narrative, disappearing here, appearing there, with no explanation.
Inserting Satan (Jim LeFave ) into the sorcerer’s mix is an essential choice because, according to Geoffrey’s account, Merlin was the son of the devil or an incubus who became the servant of God.
Le Fave stakes his claim early on as evil incarnate, overjoyed with his powers. Just when you think LeFave, the actor, is having too good a time playing the really bad guy, layers of his character emerge as magic defeats magic in dueling power struggles between Satan and Merlin’s mother, Igraine (Susan Angelo), between Satan and Merlin, and between Merlin and his half-sister and nemesis, the sorceress Morgana (Abby Craden). It’s amusing to see that sorcerers, even Satan, have their limitations.
Each of these actors electrify the air with their portrayals of good versus evil, evil versus evil and good versus good, in a 12th century account of a power struggle that seems very akin to the 21st century.
Merlin plays through at the Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum, 1419 N. Topanga Canyon Blvd., Topanga, CA90290.
A suggestion: Before you see this play, spend some time in the woods with your friends and a picnic of wine and cheese! Many of our visitors opt to arrive early so they can enjoy the tables in our garden area. At intermission, the Hamlet Hut offers concessions.
The 299-seat outdoor amphitheatre is comprised of bench seats with backs. Audience members are encouraged to bring cushions or blankets from home for comfort.
WARNING: Due to the nature of the story, there are a few scenes depicting harsh themes containing violence and sexual situations. While these scenes are presented in a theatrical and symbolic manner, parents are advised to consider if the content is appropriate for their children under the age of 14..
1419 North Topanga Canyon Boulevard
I am simply an avid theater fan and encourage you to check theatricum.com for more details on tickets.