The best humour is the kind which refers to shared experiences Luckily,
The King of Monte Cristo is a must-see for anyone familiar with the stage, if only for a little ego-pricking.
Focusing on a doomed production of a piece of original writing, the show chronicles the fraught production from day one - dealing with pompous actors, a fickle and overly-artsy writer and a director who’s so up herself she can chew her food twice. What follows is a farce in the best way.
It’s clear from the get-go that this is a strong show backed up by a strong acting team. The actors managed to present theatre stereotypes in such a wholehearted way that the seemingly two-dimensionality of the characters hardly even mattered. Tom Lofkin, in his role as the writer, was a personal favourite, delivering all of his lines with proper Northern acidity and witty bite. There were wry comic turns where the show really came into it’s own - it doesn’t hold back on the theatrical references and clever wordplay - and is all the better for it.
However, the acting didn’t make up for the plot, in that there wasn’t really much of one. It was simply just a long set-piece argument - albeit with an extremely satisfying ending - and felt a bit too much like a Beckettian rip-off for it’s own good. This might have stopped other shows in their tracks, but thanks to the array of acting talent on display, it’s impact was lessened. This did still mean that certain scenes felt a little lost and samey. Further, if you’ve never bemoaned the personalities on display, without a real-world reference, the characters may start to get grating.
The King of Monte Cristo is a must-see for anyone familiar with the stage, if only for a little ego-pricking. For anyone else, I would still recommend it as it is a witty, subversive and satisfying look at life behind the stage curtains.