Tuesday, 15 June 2021

REVIEW: The Three Musketeers, online until 27th June

Foolhardy is a production company led by Sydney Stevenson and Matthew Curnier. The former wrote this short adaptation of Alexander Dumas's classic story and the latter plays the Duke of Buckingham and Aramis. However, the format they have chosen is very unusual, perhaps a product of lockdown restrictions, and almost defies definition. It is a radio play recorded in a studio combined with a Zoom call featuring the actors playing actors like in the Play That Goes Wrong, but the stream is illustrated by cartoon backgrounds with limited animations. It is a curious mixture but is surprisingly entertaining. 

The combined effect is a combination of a Monty Python animation, with a flea circus where you don't see the characters just the objects they touch and the Jackie Weaver Council zoom call. When the cartoon characters fight as they often do in this story we see the dust cloud they generate. When D'Artagnan arrives we see the old nag he is supposed to be riding but not him. Of course, it helps that the story is familiar and we all have images from TV and Film of the characters in our heads. It tells of his attempts to join the Three Musketeers and save the Queen from exposure by Richileau and Lady D'Winter of her affair with the Duke of Buckingham by recovering the 12 diamond necklace. 

It helps too that we hear and occasionally see the wonderful Robert Lindsey playing himself as the narrator who stages his own coup to take over the leading roles. His fine voice and comic self-parody is always a delight and a reminder to see him later this year in Anything Goes at the Barbican. In this production, it does seem like Anything Goes! David Bedella also makes an appearance as Josh Hemingway playing King Louis and Portos with Lydia Perkins as Maisie Stephens playing Queen Anne and Treville. Anthony Eden (currently in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child) plays the producer David Du Lesley looking like Rik Mayall in the Young Ones and starring initially as D'Artagnan and Richileau. Diane Pilkington plays Sarah Noble as Lady D'Winter and Sarah Kamede Impey plays Jamie Ashton as Athos and we see them in their homes supposedly recording the show while interrupted by telephones and children or on mute as soon often occurs in Zoom calls during lockdown!

Throughout the cartoon, backgrounds are peppered with anachronistic visual jokes like a yellow submarine, green exit signs, and Brexit style border controls. There is a smattering of innuendo in the script and occasionally political calls for lower council tax, 4-day working week and climate change measures! But it is all done in the best possible taste. Lindsey at one point declaims that it is "the worse adaptation I have ever read with silly amateur jaunty comedy" and as the hour approaches there is a call to "speed it up" but this is part of its charm. 

It may be a silly and curious format but it is fun and entertaining and something as Monty Python used to say "completely different" and that is very refreshing.

Review by Nick Wayne 

Rating: ★★★★

Seat: Online | Price of Ticket: £12.50
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