Camelot at best provides temporary comical entertainment. This musical was filled with exaggerated characters, colorful images, and fight scenes. The key aspect missing is unity.
Arthur, played by Steven Skybell, is a king who obtained his position by the legendary tale of pulling the sword from the stone. His teacher is a magical wizard, Merlyn, played by J. Fred Shiffman, who tries to teach Arthur chivalry so he'll become a virtuous king. Arthur meets and weds a beautiful princess, Guenevere, played by Kate Suber, and creates the round table where the greatest knights of the world come to protect the weak. Soon a dedicated Frenchman, Lancelot, played by Matt Bogart, comes to Camelot and immediately befriends the king and catches the eye of the queen. Camelot is in jeopardy of breaking in half when Arthur's past comes back to haunt him.
Camelot is based on T.H. White's book The Once and Future King. This play starts out with slapstick humor but immediately changes to a serious tone at the beginning of the second act. The director, Molly Smith, might have wanted it this way to provide accentuation on the changes that have taken place but it just doesn't work well because the characters are already developed as anything but serious. The second act is the downfall to this play. The director should have made the second act similar to first to create a better flow of events. Also there are some events that are stuck in the middle of the plotline that don't add anything to the play. One example is when Merlyn is talking to himself in the forest and suddenly falls to the floor loosing his memory.
Overall the acting is amazing. Every character hits the mark as they speak clearly, sing rhythmically and act emotionally. The way these actors goes over the top helps make them more identifiable. Guenevere lusts for excitement. Arthur is kindhearted but extremely dimwitted. Lancelot is cocky and naive beyond belief. The actors create a definite chemistry that holds the play together until, like in the play, they clash and the whole play unravels.
The scenery is simple yet artistic. The sword in the stone that starts off the play sits in the middle of the stage just gleaming with a sense of firm standing that brings out the glory of Arthur as he removes the sword. The two trees on opposite corners of the stage make a balance to the stage and is appropriate considering much of the play is set in the forest.
The running time of Camelot is 2 hours and 45 minutes including one 15-minute intermission.
Information can be found at Arena Stage.
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