This scribe has been a Dumas fan forever. My ‘Iron Mask’ and ’Monte Cristo’ copies show all the thumbprints and dog-eared corners worthy of any literary sycophant. As for his THREE MUSKETEERS and its sequel – ditto. I even admit to being guilty of using Richelieu; Milady & Rochefort as literary epitomes.
We don’t DO movies, so an opportunity to visually experience 17th century derring-do and shenanigans became a personal must-see. Director Miles Potter does not disappoint. Photo courtesy of Don Dixon
The pace is almost fatiguing; interest never wanes and he holds true to the original. Even with four understudy replacements and a 20-minute-delay medical necessity plus some last minute cuts; this swashbuckling and sexually charged cast of hundreds (hyperbole) kept us at the edge of our seats.
During the reign of Louis XIII and his Austrian Queen, the head of the French Church was Cardinal Richelieu who political machinations epitomized ’eminence gris’. His Mata Hari was the Borgia-astic Milady DeWinter. The Cardinal’s number one facilitator was the Iago-ish Rochefort. Against this cadre; Athos, Porthos, Aramis and the hopeful intern D’Artagnon…the Musketeers + one.
To say that Potter’s (and his stage management team) challenges are Herculean is certainly not embellishment. The on-stage activity and cast size make the concept of blocking as well as lighting and focus-hurdles unimaginably titanic. He, and they; succeed. Fortunately, there is very little in the way of props, and an ingenious series of cages give some slight atmosphere of scene & background. The costumes and lighting emphasis overcome the simplicity of set and props.
First: – the bad guys. Louis is portrayed by Keith Dinicol as a slightly less-than fully loaded intellectual who is easily manipulated. Facially, he bears a strong resemblance to Bert Lahr’s Cowardly Lion from ‘Wizard of Oz’. Stephen Sutcliffe’s Richelieu is a study in thespian range. From fawning sycophancy worthy of the hyenas in ‘Lion King’ to an amoral tyrant; the changes are within a finger-snap with all the accompanying postures and demeanor. The pivotal role of DeWinter was subbed by Shauna Black and she incorporated all her ‘eye candy’ looks to manipulate; seduce; connive and scheme worthy of anything seen on “Dallas”. She could con this old scribe in a heartbeat. The last of the black troika is Michael Blake’s Compte de Rochefort. His total malice sis so intense that I kept imagining Lee Van Cleef’s malevolence in ‘High Noon’ every time he was on stage!
And now for those with the figurative ‘white hats’… Pathos is Jonathan Goad, Mike Shara is Aramis: and Athos is portrayed by Graham Abbey. Potter gives each of them a loose rein to incorporate their own physical and conceptual aspects in their character readings. They seem to BE rather than just PORTRAY their individualities.
D’Artagnon, he of the “All for one etc. declaration is played by Luke Humphrey. He is the axle around which all the spokes that make up the major and minor plots & sub-plots revolve. Oddly, Humphrey’s psyche is the least examined. He is young, hormonal, ambitious and fearless…but why?
Like last year’s TWELTH NIGHT screamed for a CD pressing; THREE MUSKETEERS seems made for a TV miniseries or a DVD publishing. This writer would certainly want to see it again…even here before its October 19th final curtain.
TRIVIA Dumas was one of the lovers of a certain young French courtesan who life and philosophy thereof, was the basis of “La Traviata”