Review: The Three Musketeers

4 star rating
Swashbuckling stuff is on offer in Iris Theatre's spirited, promenade version of Alexandre Dumas' historical adventure story, presented in the lovely setting of St Paul's Church.
The Three Musketeers at Iris Theatre

Image: Iris Theatre


Theatre: Iris Theatre

Closes here: Sunday 2 September 2018

Author:
Adapted by Daniel Winder

Composer:
Nick Hart

Director:
Paul-Ryan Carberry

Cast:

d'Artagnan - Jenny Horsthuis

Athos/ Cardinal Richelieu - Matt Stubbs

Milady de Winter - Ailsa Joy

Constance/ Queen of France - Bethan Rose Young

Aramis/ Lord Buckingham/ Triboulet - Albert De Jongh

Porthos/ King of France - Elliot Liburd

Planchet/ Tréville/ Rochefort/ Lord Winter - Stephan Boyce


Synopsis


Heroic deeds, epic duels and a lavish masquerade ball all come to life in a huge, outdoor adventure for all the family.


It's 1626 and a young d'Artagnan sets out for Paris, determined to join the King's Musketeers.


There's just one problem, women aren't allowed.


Undaunted, our heroine disguises herself as a man and manages to befriend the legendary Musketeer trio Athos, Aramis and Porthos.


The four fast friends are soon caught up in deadly plot involving the Queen, twelve diamond studs and the safety of the entire French state.


Will this mean war with England?


Will all four of our heroes survive?


And will anyone discover d'Artagnan's secret?


Background


This summer in the grounds of St Paul's Church in Covent Garden, join d'Artagnan on her secret mission to be the first female Musketeer.


Paul-Ryan Carberry directs Daniel Winder's adaptation of Alexandre Dumas's classic novel as you've never seen it before.


The Three Musketeers stars Jenny Horsthuis as d'Artagnan, who returns to Iris after her acclaimed performance as Malcolm in Macbeth last year, and features spectacular sword fights choreographed by Roger Bartlett (Treasure Island, 2016).


ActDrop reviews


Peter Brown

Performance date: Wednesday 8 August 2018
Review star rating image for 3 stars

There's swashbuckling stuff on offer in Iris Theatre's spirited interpretation of The Three Musketeers, now running at St Paul's - The Actors' Church - in Covent Garden.


If you're unfamiliar with Iris Theatre's summer shows, they're outdoor, promenade productions.


That means the action takes place in the large gardens of St Paul's Church as well as in its beautiful interior too.


The idea of the 'promenade' is that the audience has to follow the action as it moves from scene to scene, each set in a new location within the garden or inside the church.


If that sounds a bit like hard work, it really isn't.


We only move between scenes about 3 times in each half of the show and when we take-up our new location, there are plenty of benches to sit on.


The bonus of this format for Iris's shows is that we get to enjoy the church's lovely garden - which, apart from some brownish-looking grass, has survived the recent heatwave in good condition.

The Three Musketeers from iris Theatre

Photo courtesy Nick Rutter


Now there's a bit of background to this production.


One day before the technical rehearsal, with the show opening the next day for previews, Albert De Jongh who plays Aramis, one of the musketeers, unfortunately broke his ankle.


But, in the spirit of "all for one and one for all", the cast and production company rallied around Mr De Jongh who is, thankfully, back in the cast helped along by some quick-fire restaging and the aid of an old-fashioned wooden crutch.


Thankfully, he looks pain-free and it's good to see him in the show, managing his 'extra prop' with considerable finesse.


Daniel Winder is the adaptor here of Alexandre Dumas' classic historical adventure story that notably has a female, villainous lead in the form of Milady de Winter - splendidly played by Ailsa Joy.


And, in a stroke of laudable casting, Jenny Horsthuis ably convinces in the role of the enthusiastic and daring d'Artagnan.


It's been a while since I last flipped the pages of Dumas' novel, and I was reminded during the show that it is quite a complex plot involving a considerable troop of characters, all played here by seven, brave and fearless actors.


The twists and turns of the story, though, didn't seem to baffle the youngest members of the audience - and there were plenty of them, some very young and eager to get in on the close-up action.


That didn't faze the actors one bit - in fact there were times when they actively encouraged and organised the young theatre-goers, causing some considerable mirth among the adults in the audience.


But this is a family show after all, and it's thoughtfully staged to engage everyone.


The plot seems pretty faithful to the original storyline, though there are occasions when humour is neatly and appropriately injected into the proceedings.

The Three Musketeers from Iris Theatre

Photo courtesy Nick Rutter


However, Paul-Ryan Carberry keeps a tight reign on the endeavour to maintain a sensible and reasonable balance between humour and the more tense and exciting fight scenes, well-realised (particularly in the denouement) by Roger Bartlett.


Sometimes at this address, the hubbub of Covent Garden can spill-over the action in the garden making it a bit of a struggle to hear everything the actors are saying.


But this capable cast of just 7, all have fine, well-rounded voices and know how to use them, so audibility was not an issue on this occasion especially since the crowds in Covent Garden's Piazza were small and relatively subdued.


And the fine ensemble cope admirably with the multitude of characters they're asked to describe, ranging from the fearless if somewhat disorderly musketeers, to the devious Cardinal and the unscrupulously duplicitous Milady.


Plenty of playful fun, combined with spirited and exciting swordsmanship is a rich enough combination to keep all the family well-satisfied in this classic and diverting historical romp.


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