France 1625. And a poor nobleman called D’Artagnan makes his way to Paris to seek his fortune and join the King’s Musketeers. Unfortunately his first encounters with Musketeers result in him challenging three of their number to duels. But taken under the wing of Athos, Porthos and Aramis rather than being killed, the young Gascon find himself embroiled in the machinations of the cunning Cardinal Richelieu, and plans to dishonour the Queen herself. A tale of high adventure, rife with fun, swordplay and affairs of the heart…
Paul M Ford
Penny Simeone, Ross Dunleavy, John Bird, Elaine Marsh
Simon Poole, Kevin Boot
Tina Bretman, Elaine Marsh, Penny Simeone, Angela Williams
Reviewed by Donald Madgwick for The Croydon Advertiser
The good news is that we get a glimpse of a bare bottom in this production. The bad news is that it belongs to one of the musketeers.
But temper your hilarity with a modicum of reserve as you watch those doubleted and hosed characters demanding instant satisfaction as they yell “All for one and one for all!” Though not for me thanks, I’m for the quiet life.
The swashbuckling story by Dumas pere, as adapted by Willis Hall, has elements of high adventure and low camp. Christopher Argles directs it in the manner of one not sure which camp to plump for, and the result strikes me an evening of mixed blessings.
D’Artagnan really did exist in history, and was killed at the siege of Maastricht; so let that be a lesson to the Euro-sceptics.
Here Paul Breden gives him a cocky arrogance which both irritates and charms, and leads him equally to bathos and glory.
His companions in derring-do are Mike Brown, Paul M Ford and Richard Lloyd, the last named being the most successful in combining tongue in cheek with a stiff upper lip.
Elsewhere, by far the most impressive actor is Bruce Montgomery as that Himmler of the court of Louis XIII, Cardinal Richelieu, smooth, sardonic, and loaded with menace.
In the large cast, I am bound to say the quality of the acting is, to say the least, variable. Tina Bretman is splendid as the Holy Sister, while Neil grew pushes parody too far as the booby King.
Daniel Ireson goes for broke as the thief Planchet, where Andrew Robinson needs more variety as the contemptible draper Bonacieux. Kimberley Argles as Constance, and Lisa Lloyd as Milady de Winter, are worthy carriers of the banners of good and evil respectively.
Watch out too for Luke Argles’ First Gaoler, going over the top with all guns blazing.