Recently at Exeter’s Northcott Theatre, Le Navet Bete, a local Exeter-based acting troupe, performed their comedy show King Arthur which modernised classic Arthurian legend in a manner that was suitable and enjoyable for all ages, which left us crying with laughter.
King Arthur follows hapless squires Edgar, Osbert and Dave as they are tasked with putting on a play recounting the best stories that Camelot has to offer. The only problem? Camelot has no legends to speak of, and if they fail they’ll be executed. Our ‘heroes’ then have to try and put on their show by learning to act and meeting all of your favourite Arthurian characters, as you’ve never, and I mean NEVER, seen them before. For example, Lancelot was not a dashing knight of the round table, but a perfectionist chef with a quite frankly outrageous french accent, and Merlin was an underwear boiling lunatic with a creepy woman in his attic. This bizarre, but absolutely brilliant, production was the perfect way to spend a cold autumn night. Filled with belly laughs, King Arthur was an engaging show and was utterly ridiculous in the best ways possible.
We entered the theatre to a rendition of ‘I need a hero’, the upbeat music and almost sold out theatre made for an exciting atmosphere and with a good mix of adults and families, whose children certainly didn’t get some of the more hilarious adult jokes, which aided in creating an enjoyable, boisterous and loud starting atmosphere. Reminiscent of The Play That Goes Wrong, as at points we couldn’t tell if the tiny mess ups were planned or not, there were a few instances where the actors lost their composure but their resulting improvisation made these tiny mess-ups all the more comedic and engaging.
The upbeat music and almost sold out theatre made for an exciting atmosphere
There was an incredible use of lighting and music in the second half of the performance and coupled with hilarious props, it aided in maintaining the audiences’ attention and the whole two hour show flew by in a whirlwind of belly laughs. Props and questions were used to engage the audience and invite them into the comedy being created on stage, for example, chucking French Fancies at the audience, or asking the audience to lob vegetables at the actors on stage. The breaking of the fourth wall (“But we can’t act!” “You can say that again.”) and the slight improvisation from the actors allowed for an absolutely hysterical performance.
The slight improvisation from the actors allowed for an absolutely hysterical performance
The trio of actors, Nick Bunt, Al Dunn and Matt Freeman, shone in their physical comedy and also their ability to bounce off each other. As Edgar, Osbert, and the iconic Dave the Rave, these actors kept the audience engaged, and laughing, for hours on end, with seamlessly integrated (and amazingly sung) musical numbers and interactions with the audience. Their use of accents, particularly when depicting the valleys lilt of the Green Knights, helped hilariously differentiate between the trio’s multiple roles.
King Arthur is their first touring show in four years, and is a must watch as it tours across the UK in early 2024. It is Horrible Histories meets Monty Python and the Holy Grail and is without a doubt, one of the best comedic theatre performances we have seen in the last few years.