Opera House Arts’ production of the original work “Avalon” is a fun, imaginative, thought-provoking and magical play based on the Arthurian legends. That most likely is why its final shows this week are sold out.
Its impact is enhanced greatly by the setting where it is performed — outside amid the unique buildings and whimsical sculptures created by Peter Beerits and scattered about his Deer Isle property, home to Nervous Nellie’s.
Performed inside the Stonington Opera House, the company’s home base, it’s doubtful theatergoers would head home feeling like they had spent an enchanted evening in Camelot and Avalon as they did Friday night after sitting amid the flowers and trees. The audience moves from a field, where a festival is taking place, to a castle, to a chapel nestled in the woods and back again.
The script, written by Melody Bates, who portrays Morgana, draws most heavily from T.H. White’s “The Once and Future King,” published in 1958, and the 1983 novel “The Mists of Avalon” by Marion Zimmer Bradley. It is from the latter that Bates draws her most compelling and best written scene — a confrontation between Merlin and Morgana in which they debate how and why the pagan ways are being consumed by Christianity.
This scene, the third in the play, is performed outside the chapel. A giant round table, a gift from Guinevere’s father to her husband Arthur, sits in front of the house of worship. Merlin (Matt Hurley) and Morgana (Bates) infuse this argument with intellect and emotion. Visually, it is the most surprising and satisfying scene in “Avalon.”