For seasoned theatregoers, this version of The Three Musketeers comes across as one of those shows that takes a similar format to something one has seen before. For me, it has the feel of a profit-share production on at 3:30pm at C Venues at the Edinburgh Fringe: a cast of seven takes on multiple characters. The characters are themselves actors in a production, rather like Noises Off, so, for example, Antony Eden plays David Du Lesley, who in turn plays D’Artagnan, among other characters. The premise is that there hasn’t been sufficient time (for which read ‘budget’) for a rehearsal, so the cast are going into this performance ‘blind’. This narrative base gives rise to an amusing (if predictable) subplot about weaknesses and contradictions in the script, which would otherwise have been ironed out at the workshop stage.
The narrator, Robert Lindsay, is the most vocal on, for instance, a story that is set in 1625 and yet includes the Eiffel Tower (completed in 1889) as a Parisian landmark, though there are other interventions from Maisie Stephens (Lydea Perkins), who doesn’t think Queen Anne would feasibly say the lines Du Lesley has written for her, which is essentially a subtle point about the novel’s approach to its female characters. The cartoon animations used are detailed and extensive, without (interestingly) the use of cartoon caricatures for any of the characters. The audience, therefore, finds itself utilising their imaginations to a certain extent, and the cast effectively become voice actors.
There’s a silliness to the production that slowly grew on me – it’s one of those comedies that remains insufferable to the end (if one lasts that long) or otherwise finds an absolute hoot. No prior knowledge of the classic story is required – all is explained sufficiently, and the plotline is dramatized remarkably well despite some (seemingly deliberate) hammy performances. With Du Lesley having cast himself most prominently in his own script, the likes of David Bedella as Josh Hemingway as King Louis XIII, don’t exactly have a lot to do.
Neither do the three musketeers of the play’s title – make of that what you will. The ‘play within a play’ format allows contemporary matters to keep permeating through, and, this being an online production, there are connection dropouts and people on mute when they shouldn’t be and vice versa. It very nearly becomes ‘Monty Python and the Handforth Parish Council’ when proceedings appear to fall apart almost completely, but one way or another, the story is completed, and despite the interruptions, within a reasonable timeframe. Suitably fun and light-hearted.
Review by Chris Omaweng
The classic tale of The Three Musketeers is brought to you by the inconceivable, unimaginable and fantastical FoolHardy Theatre… a company with questionable theatrical training, no experience and no taste. What could possibly go wrong?
Audio and animation are brought together in this swashbuckling adventure. Expect sword fights, deception and a right royal romance as we take you back to the regal splendour of 17th century France in this exciting, madcap comedy.
The Three Musketeers is a new online audio farce written by Sydney Stevenson and starring Robert Lindsay.
A percentage of profits will also be donated to the Royal Theatrical Fund.
Arden and Moore’s production of
The Three Musketeers – attempted by FoolHardy
Written by Sydney Stevenson
Directed by Joseph O’Malley
Cast: Robert Lindsay (Narrator), Dianne Pilkington (Sarah Noble), David Bedella (Josh Hemingway), Matthew Curnier (Greg Matthews), Antony Eden (David Du Lesley), Sarah Kameela Impey (Jamie Aston) and Lydea Perkins (Maisie Stephens).
Q&A with Sarah Kameela Impey from the cast of The Three Musketeers
Recommended Age: 14+
Running from 15th – 27th June 2021