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Tristan & Yseult – Synopsis

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Read more on Tristan & Yseult – Synopsis from the Kneehigh Cookbook archive.

King Mark rules Cornwall with a fair hand using his head rather than his heart, aided by his lapdog servant Frocin. But things start to rock his boat. Firstly, the dreaded Morholt comes from Ireland and invades King Marks country of Kernow. Secondly, the enigmatic Tristan arrives, and together they defeat Morholt, though Tristan sustains injuries.

Initially baffled as to why Tristan would assist him, King Mark feels a strange and very strong connection to this stranger and is grateful for his assistance. To cement their bond, he sends Tristan on a quest to find and bring back Morholts sister Yseult to be his wife.

Tristan dutifully sets out on the long voyage to Ireland, but the injuries sustained in the fight are threatening to kill him.

He arrives, unconscious, at a foreign shore and is found lying on the sand by a beautiful woman – a healer. Yseult. She tends to his wounds and, when Tristan awakes, helps him get back on his feet.

However, when Tristan reveals who he is and what his mission is, Yseult realises that her brother has been killed by the man she had fallen for and is heartbroken.

Bound by duty, sadly, she accepts her fate and sets out to return to Cornwall with Tristan. Before she goes, she asks for a potion to help love along when she has to marry King Mark.

But love potions are funny things. Wine? Love potion? Its all the same.

But love potions are funny things. Wine? Love potion? Its all the same. On the voyage, Tristan & Yseult drink the potion and fall desperately, drunkenly, in love.

They arrive at King Marks castle. Their fate is sealed. There is a wedding.

Yseults maid, Brangian, takes Yseults place on her wedding night to King Mark, because Yseult would be unable to prove her virginity. Brangian wonders bitterly if, on her wedding night, a Queen will take her place.

Tristan & Yseults passionate affair carries on, and Yseult also comes to love King Mark, in a gentler way. That is until Frocin decides to oust them.

All hell breaks loose. King Mark is furious with Frocin for confirming his suspicions and breaking the spell of blissful ignorance. He is furious with Tristan & Yseult for their betrayal, but he cant kill them. He loves them too much. So he banishes them.

Tristan & Ysuelt wander the forest. Whilst they are asleep one night, King Mark comes across them and again, tries and fails to bring himself to kill them. Instead he leaves his knife as a symbol that he is still angry and hurt, but loves them still.

When they wake up Tristan & Yseult realise what pain they have caused and part company. However they do make a pact on parting if you need me, Ill be there. Yseult returns to her duty, her rock – King Mark, who welcomes her back with open arms.

Time passes. Tristan has remarried. A woman named Yseult of the White Hands who loves him deeply. Who he doesnt love but who brings back memories of his beloved. On his deathbed he calls for Yseult. If she is coming, the ship will fly white sails. If she is not, the sails will be black. When Tristan asks are the sails black or white? his new wife, distraught after years of being unloved, deceives him into thinking that the sails are black, and that Yseult is not returning. He dies of grief, shortly before Yesult comes running for him. On seeing she is too late, she too dies of a broken heart.

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