Knights of Round Table gather in Carlson Theatre

The Bellevue College Theater Arts’ most recent production, Camelot, opened on Mar. 6. Camelot’s story is told well and the actors serve as worthy champions of the cause; however, a few issues do hold the production back.

It is said that a meal is eaten with the eyes first. Any chef worth their salt knows the arrangement of on a dish has as much to do with a meal’s enjoyment as the actual flavor of the entree. Michael Brandt, the scenic designer, feeds the audience well. This rendition of Camelot does not take place in England in the days of yore, but, instead, the audience finds themselves taken to a believable future, long after the collapse of civilization. Metal and vine twist together next to crumbling concrete walls to draw each viewer into Camelot’s world of tribes and violence. Modular set-pieces were used well, with each configuration feeling like its own distinct location. The crew that put this set together deserves their own seat at the round table.

Camelot’s three main heroes Arthur, Guenevere and Lancelot are portrayed admirably by their individual actors. Sriram Kanduri, who played Arthur, sings and delivers his monologues with a proud nobility fit for a king. Kelsey Crane lends Guenevere her powerful vocal pipes and is easily the best voice during all of her songs. Lancelot, portrayed by Leon Sepanta, sings and acts well but is the weakest of the three in their role. Sepanta’s performance of “C’est Moi” evoked the image of a haughty noble, not a cocky knight, yet they hit their stride later in the first act and closed strong.

There seemed to be a charisma problem when the players came together. Arthur, Guenevere and Lancelot comprise the greatest love triangle of British mythology. Arthur and Lancelot are as close as brothers, and their individual feelings for Guenevere eventually tear the kingdom apart. The play reminds the viewers regularly of this powerful love through the words and actions of each character. The actors did not. Arthur and Lancelot were friendly in the same way two coworkers might chat at a watercooler. Guenevere appeared to have friendzoned both of them. However, true love is challenging to portray, and the efforts of each player were commendable.

King Pellinore and Mordred, played by Jennifer Loschen and Gareth Freese respectively, were fantastic and deserve mention. They commanded attention each time they entered the stage, and played their parts admirably. Abigail Parish, a young actress who played several parts, including Tom of Warwick, acquitted herself well on stage, and will surely blossom into an amazing actress as she grows.

The troupe as a whole performed outstandingly. Every member brought unique life to their part. When the cast came together for larger scenes, there was an obvious trust between players that allowed them to lean on each other. If someone made a small misstep during a dance, it was taken in stride by their partner, who made necessary adjustments. Unintentional pauses in speech were never awkward. Most importantly, the group seemed to be having fun together. Their internal chemistry was on full display while they sang and danced “The Lusty Month of May.” The laughter from each actor seemed genuine, and helped to bring spring to the stage. The only real complaint is the inability of the actors to deliver a snappy comeback. There were definite times when a line called for some spice, but the delivery fell flat.

Dance choreography was good. The actors’ stage movement was fluid and everyone seemed to find their place very well, even during the more hectic group dancing. The fight scenes were split almost down the middle. For every exciting bout of sword play there was an equally clumsy display of faux strength. Unfortunately, knights are supposed to be excellent fighters, comfortable with a sword in their fists. When a Knight of the Round Table fails to appear dangerous, the suspension of disbelief is ruined. BC’s production of Camelot entertained and, despite some flaws, was a great way to spend the night. The Theater Arts program put on a wonderful show, and it is always a treat to  watch their performances.

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