Review Of Camelot By Gisele Turner

Once upon a time … there was a king. He was noble, upright, fair and loving. His heart was given to a beautiful maiden, who became his queen. Together they ruled in the far away, semi- mythical Camelot, a place for living happily ever after if ever there was one. Close your eyes…listen to the opening fanfare. Now open them… for an intriguing, mesmerising, magical story is about to unfold…
The story has been around for centuries and has gone through many variations; it was T. H. White who developed it into a quirky, rich and imaginative tale. And the cultured Austrian-born Loewe with his quick tongued partner Lewis who took the heart of the story, the archetypal love triangle, and made it shine.
There is a beating heart in Camelot that aims to elevate man, to ennoble him, to give him mystic powers and cultured civilised habits. In this enchanting land, kindness and compassion rule hand in hand with might and strength and those in power have responsibilities to those beneath them. Having been raised by a centuries-old necromancer, the young King Arthur, magically enthroned, is capable of envisioning and manifesting a Utopian state.
But even the Garden of Eden had its snake …. and the young king has a flawed history, where nature’s laws have been violated, albeit unwittingly. The die is cast as they say……
Camelot the musical is played out in a short series of potent scenes, pushing the story to a plethora of climaxes, riding it headlong into the arena of Greek tragedy and rescuing it with a simple devise of hope and innocence. The scenes are punctuated with songs, full, delightful pieces, rich with musical fusion that still fall blissfully into the best of the Broadway tradition.
Kickstart’s Camelot, currently playing the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre is full of heart and passion. It is this which sweeps up and carries everything –the actors, the action, the story, the songs, the dances, the costumes, the scenery, the lighting and, inevitably, the audience. We are awash with passion…borne into each scene on the crest of it, held high and delighted on that crest, rushed into the shore on the frothy, foaming spume of it…and drawn back into the ocean of it once again. It is the passion of the ideology and the passion of the artists that leave one feeling drenched with a strange enthusiasm and vigour for life. This in spite of the knowledge that the dream has turned and the shadow has cast itself against the light.
Steven Stead’s portrayal of Arthur is simply remarkable; it is his deep, passionate energy (and exceptional versatility) that holds the strands together. Jessica Sole’s Guinevere is faultless; it is her ease and grace and lightness of foot and trueness of voice that acts as the feminine balance. Lyle Buxton’s Lancelot is believable and sincere.
Peter Court transforms effortlessly from the wry and idiosyncratic Merlin into the bumbling questing King Pellinor. Nathan Kruger relishes his role as the wicked Mordred, and he shines, especially in his physicality. Anne Marie Clulow offers a convincingly enticing Nimue.
The brave, bold knights, played by Cameron Botha, Tshepo Ncokoane and Byron McNeil, all suckers for the charms of Guinevere and later for the wiles of Mordred, present themselves with authenticity and verve.
The ladies, Marion Loudon, Camilla Rogers, Nozuko Teto and Leigh Meyer who change into any number of characters as required, are present, tuneful, and physically eloquent. Completing this amazing cast is Anthony Stonier, who adds his presence and voice as the Herald and a delightfully adroit Schoeman Smit as Squire Dap. The night I watched the production it was Jake Savage who took the turnaround role of Tom of Warwick and he acquitted himself of this juvenile role with confidence and poise.
The superlatives continue into the direction and production team with Steven Stead and Mervyn McMurtry in the directors’ seats, Greg King creating mind- boggling mobile sumptuousness in sets that settle on stage just long enough for all the attention to detail to be absorbed, Terrence Bray who has outdone even his brilliant self with the fabulous costumes and talented Janine Bennewith who offers a striving-for-perfection in the choreography which makes all those hectic scenes look effortless.
Tina Le Roux is the mistress of her game, and her lighting of this beautiful playground is awe inspiring. Shelley Mclean brings her accomplished musical talent and experience to the role of musical director. Both Jason Bird as musical supervisor and Ross van Wyk as sound designer deserve applause and accolades.
And that’s in Durban folks! Just up the hill. Camelot is a production any production company in the world would be proud to claim. Apart from being a rich and moving experience with sparkling moment after sparkling moment, it is a pick-me-up for tired spirits and reminder that passion lives here.
Camelot plays until 3rd June. Booking through Computicket.

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