Billed as a ‘comedy adventure’, I imagined ‘The Three Musketeers’, to be a side-splitting, sword-fighting romp through the French countryside with three, soon to be four, Musketeers in velvet costumes and plumed hats.
Le Navet Bete’s production wasn’t quite what I expected. The four cast – Dan Bianchi, Nick Bunt, AL Dunn and Matt Freeman – are never still for a minute, making a mind-boggling 112 costume changes as they take us on a whistle-stop tour of Alexandre Dumas’ adventure about D’Artagnan and the three musketeers.
The story opens with our characters in pre-Musketeer days as children, wearing shorts and riding bicycles. It is D’Artagnan’s dream to leave home and join the Musketeers. And with use a clever set on three levels and our imagination, we are taken from forest, to inns, palaces to galleons, and even ‘behind the Co-op’ for a sword fight.
A sense of play abounds and not one of the actors is precious about playing the fool.
The numerous costume changes are largely achieved with aplomb, and at those moments when there is a little slip of a moustache, a wig or a cardinal’s vestment, no one seems to mind – it all adds to the fun.
The actors are clearly having a ball with the characters, particularly the portrayal of Milady de Winter, the evil femme-fatale and the villainous, Cardinal Richelieu. The physical comedy makes the show accessible to a wide audience. However, in my view some of the more risqué humour and innuendo isn’t suitable for the younger side of the 7+ age-group the publicity material advertises.
The talents and good nature of La Navet Bete is palpable but when toy ducks start flying around the auditorium I start to feel like we’d been thrown into a student review or an adult pantomime!
It is clear Le Navet Bete theatre company has a strong and loyal following who were enthusiastically ready for its Monty Python-esque sketches. But, I suspect many others, like myself, didn’t know quite what they’d let themselves in for.★ ★ ★