“Camelot,” in the immortal words of Monty Python, is a silly place.
Barter Theatre’s adaptation, with music and lyrics by Frederick Loewe and Alan Jay Lerner, leans into the silliness of the classic
1960s musical and earns big laughs thanks to a cast that swings for the fences. Richard Rose’s direction draws out the
heightened world of King Arthur’s Camelot with a fairy-tale set, beautiful costumes and a winking assurance to the audience that
we’re mostly here to have fun. But even with all the capering, there’s still a darker side to “Camelot,” and Barter also succeeds in
bringing some genuine drama to the show, despite a jerky script that can’t always decide whether we’re supposed to laugh at
Camelot or mourn for it.
The opening set strikes a somber, stately tone, the stage surrounded by what look like larger-than-life stone carvings of King
Arthur’s Knights of the Round Table and assorted other characters from Camelot — the mythic seat of King Arthur’s court in
medieval England. Those huge statues, lit by a kaleidoscope of stained-glass colors throughout the show, give us a sense of
these characters as legendary
gures. Arthur. Guenevere. Lancelot. Merlin. The stories have been told and retold so often that
we’ve stopped thinking of them as quite human. They’ve become bigger than that.