The Count of Monte Cristo

Two weeks into it’s 6 week run The Maverick Theater’s production of “The Count of Monte Cristo” is an enjoyable performance of this classic tale. A professional cast and mostly good direction by Nathan Makaryk guide the performance in an easy to follow telling of the complex story.

The Maverick always does a good job of guiding the audience into the story. The large dining/drinking area is a nice place to wait for the play to begin, and then the MC introduces the show, and you see that the play has already begun.

Edmund Dantès (Michael Keeney) is wrongly imprisoned on the day of his wedding to the lovely Mercedes (Dolores Kimble). The story is told through flashbacks, which are done in such a way as to not detract from the time period of the play. Much of the history is given in compacted form and you are able to focus on the turmoil that happens later in the play.

Dantès is determined to repay the men who conspired to put him in prison, Danglars (David Chorley), Villefort (Scott Keister) and Mondego (John Brennan) who have all benefited through their treachery and attained positions of wealth and prestige.

At some point you may feel like most of the play is spent on the giddy exuberance of watching years of planning culminate in the terrible vengeance that is exacted down upon the envious and jealous villains like the profound and unforgiving weight of Thor’s hammer. But you would be wrong.

There is more to it. The moving score and sound effects set the mood and hint at something deeper. Edmund  revenge plot catapult him upon the French Aristocracy social scene just as it is having an identity crisis with the phenomenon of “new money” during the Napoleonic Wars. In some ways the story is a small version of the conflict between those who came to power through conquest and those who came to power through commerce. The play is an adaptation by Charles Morey.

All through the play we see the theme of the lives that are ruined when one man preys on another. The layers are pulled back one by one as the crimes are revealed and each new layer uncovers another tragedy. Edmund’s fiancée Mercedes says, “I live between two graves.”

Although the story is complex the stylized characters help keep personal intentions distinct, even through the very active sword fights and other action scenes. The lighting effects are mostly spot on but in some parts leave you wondering what you are not supposed to see. The lead actors give solid performances and keep the story moving but several others stand out such as Karen Harris as Madaame de Villefort and Ryan Murphy as Benedetto. It is an enjoyable and thrilling performance.

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