It’s no easy matter to condense the tangled tale of injustice and cold-hearted revenge that is The Count of Monte Cristo from an 800-page landmark of 19th century literature into a short, sharp stage show.
And when you think how many people are in the cast for the best-known example of a French novel adapted for the stage, it’s even tricker when you have no massed ranks of Les Miserables to help the story along.
If all you’ve got is a handful of actors and the most rudimentary props, you have to depend on talent to tell your story.
That’s not a task that would dismay Anthony Burden, the driving force behind the Company Boudin production of the familiar Dumas tale which will be arriving at Hemel Hempstead’s Old Town Hall next Tuesday night.
He’s already successfully adapted another big-cast classic, Henry V, to a smaller scale and has many similar credits on his CV.
You know the story – golden boy Edmund Dantes seems to have the world at his feet. He’s young, in love and has just been promoted to captain of his own ship!
But the greed and envy of others lead to him being framed as a traitor and chucked into jail.
Facing a lifetime of despair in a dark dungeon, he has to dig deep to find the strength to escape – and then adopt a new identity as he starts to track down those who wronged him, and make them pay.
This imaginative production uses the simplest stage settings and disguises galore to create a whole cast of characters, from the count himself to a trio of Cuban cigar factory hands.
Despite the breadth of the story, the show rattles along and is aimed at anyone aged nine and over.
Curtain up is at 8pm and tickets are £11, with £9 concessions available while Dacorum Card holders pay just £6.50. Call the venue on 01442 228091 for more information and to book your place.