Review: The Count of Monte Cristo at Sacramento Shakespeare Festival

The Count of Monte Cristo: 7:30 p.m. July 8, 13, 15, 21, 26 and 28; Henry V: 7:30 p.m. July 12, 14, 20, 22, 27 and 29; $16-$20; Ovation Stage, William A. Carroll Amphitheatre in William Land Park;
Rated 4.0

The Count of Monte Cristo is like an addictive soap opera complete with deceit, treachery, secret rivals, lost love, found revenge and a bit of mercy. Author Alexandre Dumas, who also wrote The Three Musketeers, keeps his audience captive with plot twists, cliffhangers, reveals and resolves.

Sacramento Shakespeare Festival celebrates its 53rd season with The Count, in rotation with the Bard’s Henry V, and it’s a perfect choice for this outdoor theater. Using an adaptation by Christopher Walsh, the production stays true to Dumas’ suspenseful story with, a talented cast, imaginative staging, swashbuckling sword fights, streamlined sets and beige- and red-accented period costumes, all under the stars and squawking ducks at the William A. Carroll Amphitheatre in William Land Park.

The production starts off a little tentative, but builds up energy and rhythm as the story of wrongful imprisonment and orchestrated revenge gradually emerges. The cast purposely gives exaggerated performances, though some more than others.

Pete Eden is a somewhat cautious though charming Count, carefully drawing us into his world, and is backed up with engaging performances by Alex Quinonez (Albert), Kathleen Poe (Mercedes), Liam Worrell-Olson (Benedetto), Dagney Hollman (Haydee) , Mike Poe (Villeforte,) Richard Batres (Fernand), Sarah Palermo (Hermine), Jonathon Plon as Danglars, and Katherine Bahena-Benitez (Eugenie).