In this timeless romantic tragedy set in Medieval England, a volatile love triangle spoils heroic intentions.
As the show opens, King Arthur, whose marriage has been arranged for political reasons, nervously awaits his bride-to-be. A case of mistaken identity takes the pressure off Arthur, allowing him to charm Guenevere, and the pair is happily wed. Guenevere inspires Arthur to greatness and he endeavors to create a peaceable kingdom ruled by civil law and an egalitarian form of chivalry epitomized by the Round Table.
Enter Sir Lancelot, the French knight extraordinaire determined to be part of this new idealistic order. Lancelot is overzealous and pretentious, and although he wins over the king, Guenevere nurtures a strong dislike for him. Yet it’s a case of attraction masquerading as disdain, and when Lancelot performs an astounding miracle, the young queen is disarmed.
In the days of courtly love, it was common for knights to worship married women from afar and to prove their worthiness through tests of bravery. Although Lancelot professes to be “blessed with an iron will,” virtue is no match for this grand passion.
The show is propelled by the dynamics of the trio, and Jim Stanek (King Arthur), Kim Carson (Guenevere), and Jarid Faubel (Lancelot) rise admirably to the challenge. Stanek immediately wins over the audience with the comic, “I Wonder What the King Is Doing Tonight,” and delivers the querying “How To Handle A Woman” with the right amount of romantic gusto. Kim Carson makes for a lovely Guenevere, and “The Lusty Month of May,” and “Before I Gaze At You Again” showcase her vocal and acting range. Faubel is perfectly cast as the rival for Guenevere’s affections. He makes a commanding impression in “C’est Moi,” while revealing his vulnerability in “If Ever I Would Leave You.”
David Benoit does double duty as the magician Merlin and Pellinore, and is remarkably funny. The laid-back performance of canine sidekick, Horrid (Zeus, a St. Bernard from Centerport) made for a great deal of laughter.
Jeremy Morse plays Mordred, Arthur’s illegitimate son who turns up like a bad penny, spewing some unfortunate truths. He leads the knights in a fun-filled rebellion against chivalry, “Fie On Goodness,” and his rendition of “The Seven Deadly Virtues” will put a smile on your face.
Scenic designer Todd Edward Ivins paints the landscape of the mythical kingdom in broad minimalist and modernistic strokes, such that a stylized tree can suggest a forest. The suspension of a huge circle, intricately carved in the manner of a medieval window, effectively sets the tone while bringing Joel E. Silver’s talent for lighting design to the fore.
Camelot runs through Nov. 6. Tickets can be purchased by phone at 631-261-2900 or online at www.engemantheater.com.