It was a black comedy just waiting to be written, according to Davie playwright Michael McKeever, whose Don't Tell the Tsar is a retelling of a real-life monk's murder just prior to the Russian Revolution in 1917. At the time, Grigori Rasputin was Tsar Nicholas II's religious adviser. Being tight with the Romanovs certainly had its perks (plenty of Faberge finery around the palace, for one), but Rasputin's timing was terrible. The Russian peasants, led by one Vladimir Lenin, were restless, and many felt that the monarchy would soon go down. Rasputin had the tsar's ear, but the Russian aristocracy saw him as a nut whose association with the royals further fueled public hatred. So a buffoonish cast of killers poisoned, shot, then drowned Rasputin, just to make sure they job got done. McKeever adds a comic spin to the material, in order to point up the irony: It took a bunch of dukes and army generals to kill one unarmed holy man. Staged readings of McKeever's play will be given by the Caldwell Theatre Company (7873 N. Federal Hwy., Boca Raton) during its Playsearch Series today at 2 and 7 p.m. A $5 donation is suggested. Call 561-241-7432 or toll-free 930-6400.
Ballet performed with swords may sound dangerous, but you can bet it's a lot more exciting than Swan Lake. The Three Musketeers, which is based on the 1844 Alexandre Dumas novel, follows Porthos, Athos, Aramis, and D'Artagnan as they traipse around seventeenth-century England and France, fighting on behalf of their queen. A couple of questions have to be asked: Is anyone really going to be intimidated by guys wearing tights? And if there are four musketeers, how did Dumas come up with that title? (Actually, D'Artagnan joins the other three later in the book.) Anyway, the requisite themes of passion and guile are infused with comedy in this ballet performed by the Royal Ballet of Flanders. And the score is provided by Giuseppe Verdi. The curtain for the one-night engagement rises at 8 p.m. at the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts, 701 Okeechobee Blvd., West Palm Beach. Ticket prices range from $20 to $45. Call 800-572-8471 or 561-832-7469.