Green Knight

Aug 11 2017 | By More

★★★★☆    Brave

Royal Scots Club (Venue 241): Monday 7 – Wednesday 23 August 2017
Review by Linus West

Debbie Cannon is taking a serious gamble with Green Knight, playing the Royal Scots Club three nights a week for the three weeks of the fringe.

She takes the risk of writing her own one-woman show, acting it alone onstage, and throwing it out there for the world to critique. It’s a terrifying bet to take, but one that pays off. The mystical world of King Arthur and Camelot is brought to life through her captivating performance.

Debbie Cannon. Pic: Linus West

Cannon strides through the doors, armed only with a small bindle of items. The audience is greeted as fellow travellers, as she introduces herself with an easily likeable warmth. You learn of how she was once a noble lady, now cast aside from society following the death of her husband.

Throughout this introduction, Cannon carefully unties her bindle canvas, laying out her minimal belongings. A copper bowl, wooden spoon, golden plate, miniature drum and green ribbon.

Her monologue drifts to Camelot and King Arthur’s band of warriors. In awe, she tells us the familiar fairytale of the Green Knight, marching into the castle and inviting any man to strike him down, should they agree to seek him out and take a blow themselves in one year’s time. The noble Sir Gawain accepts, beheading the armour-clad intruder in one clean swing. The knight’s body picks up the severed head, reminds Gawain of the pledge and date, then exits the hall.

Lady Bertilak

Cannon has cast herself as Lady Bertilak, an original character in the 14th century fairytale. In the final nights before Gawain’s day of reckoning, far from Camelot, she attempts to seduce him – approaching his bedside once darkness has fallen, and doing her best to lure him into sin. It’s from this perspective that she tells the story.

That’s where the biggest flaw in the production lies. She starts off talking bitterly of how, without a man by her side, she is dismissed as a mere nobody. It feels as if she were about to offer an different take on the tale, one starring an independent female protagonist.

However, it quickly becomes apparent she is indeed just a plot device for the purposes of men. A mere window to gaze though, into this story, rather than a strong character in herself. The original, testosterone-fuelled text undermines the apparent premise of her performance.

Other than that though, the production is near spotless. Cannon’s animated performance lights up the stage, conjuring vivid images in the audience’s mind. Technically it may be just a monologue, but in practice amounts to far more. Her sweeping gestures and gruff voices fixate you for the full 80 minutes, better than a full cast of average actors. Storytelling at its very best.

The props, too, are a major role of her storytelling process. She uses them resourcefully, turning what is at first glance a pile of junk into clear representations of characters and castles. Flavia D’Avila, as director, will no doubt deserve some credit for this idea – it works surprisingly well.

We haven’t even covered the sheer magnitude of Cannon’s script, and the number of lines to memorise. She delivers them all effortlessly, not stumbling once.

Green Knight is a guaranteed treat at the Fringe, offering the kind of daring feat it has become famed for. Debbie Cannon gives it her all, lures the audience in, and captures their imaginations. The premise would benefit from straying further from the status quo, but her storytelling ability alone is enough to sell this medieval fairytale.

Running time 1 hour (no interval)
The Royal Scots Club, 29-31 Abercromby Place, EH3 6QE
Monday 7 – Wednesday 23 August 2017
Every Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday: 3.30pm.
Tickets from the #EdFringe website:

Debbie Cannon on Twitter: @DebsCa
Debbie Cannon on Facebook: @debbiecannonactor
Debbie Cannon Website:


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