The Arthurian story about Sir Gawain’s quest re-imagined in today’s world.
An exploration of the forces of nature, paganism, myth and magic.
Full of Gothic horror, mystery and eroticism, this is a modern reinvention of the famous medieval poem.
On New Year’s Eve, on a steamer steered by a Phoenician Sailor downriver to the Thames Barrier, a party of bankers listen to a story about a motorcyclist dressed in green, a fearful beheading, and a challenge, which only Gavin is brave enough to accept.
In the story being told, a year passes before Gavin rides his Triumph motorcycle through the wintry wilderness of North Wales in the quest to find a green chapel, where he will meet his adversary and thereby keep his promise. Before he reaches his destination, however, he encounters Lord Bertilak and his beguiling wife. But are the two of them quite who they appear to be? Is the unassuming hero being tested in more ways than he knows? And who is the storyteller, Henley? Why is he telling this particular story? And will he have time to complete it before the journey is over?
These are the questions that haunt Philip Sealey’s present-day re-imagining of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, a medieval poem about the exploits of one of King Arthur’s knights. But as the complacent bankers on their Thames cruise are drawn ever deeper into a tale they are assured is not fiction, as their boat steams downriver through a cityscape thronged with reminders of Eliot’s Waste Land towards the Thames Barrier, they are confronted with a reminder that the river, and nature itself, is as powerful and unpredictable as it ever was.
This reinvention of a poem about a green knight and a deadly midwinter game, in which the banality of daily life and the supernatural sit side by side at the table, explores the eternal themes of truth to oneself, promise-keeping and our relationship with the natural world – themes as relevant now as they were in medieval times.