The Three Musketeers is set in pre-Revolutionary France at a time when monarchist and republican tensions were seething and the atmosphere was full of political intrigue. This production could have easily become bogged down in all the political machinations but, to its credit, a comic and at times slapstick approach was taken so that sheer entertainment was the order of the day.
Cole Yeoman as D’Artagnan exemplified
this approach and was a knockabout tour-de-force as he attempted to pursue his
ambition of becoming a Musketeer of the Guard. In his various
encounters, he ended up being rag-dolled around the stage as he tumbled and
tussled with various adversaries. It was a testament to youthful resilience
that he did not do himself a mischief.
Aidan Brawley as Cardinal Richelieu exuded Machiavellian cynicism as he plotted and planned a war between France and England. His stage presence was considerable as he manipulated those around him.
A feature of this production were the sumptuous period costumes. Hagen Byford (Porthos), Bailey Cropp (Athos), Mark Elam (Aramis) and Cole Yeoman as D’Artagnan all cut dashing figures with their doublets, flowing locks, Cavalier boots, and realistic-looking swords.
The ladies were no less distinguished: Shannon Harrison as Constance, Hannah McDonnell as Queen Anne, Jessica Brooker as Milady de Winter and Suzanne Austen as Biscarat were resplendent in period costumes which helped them to get into character and turn in convincing interpretations of their roles.
Further stellar performances distinguished this production. Brent Shaskey as the quill-wielding Dumas, narrated and dominated his role as he occasionally ‘broke down the fourth wall’ to participate in the action. Lachlan Sheppard-Lynch was utterly compelling as the villainous Rochefort while Miguel Clayton-Jones (Duke of Buckingham) and Jackson Davies (King Louis) played their foppish and dandified parts to perfection.
The bravura performance was Jessica Brooker as Milady de Winter. A branded felon, she had this reviewer searching for superlatives as she outdid Lady Macbeth in terms of sheer bodacious villainy. The high point in the play was her brawl with the disguised D’Artagnan which had the audience on the edge of their seats as it resembled something akin to a MMA Cage Fight. Indeed, the whole play was marked by a ‘physicality’ that had Mr Hudson on a bulk Panadol search following the closing curtain.
There were also notable supporting performances. Bradon Freeman (Bonacieux), after drinking from a poisoned chalice, turned dying into an art while Lucan Buxton-Bennett did a mean French accent and carried on despite a debilitating injury. Mitchell Lilly (Planchet) conjured up a realistic drunk and Liam Hubrick (Treville) used his powerful but nuanced voice to good effect. Phillip Smith (O’Reilly) and Brandon Chapman (Jussac) also played their parts in conveying this period drama.
This was a very slick performance. The rotating set kept the tempo high, the script was full of memorable one-liners and all the actors rose to the challenge of presenting their interpretations of Alexander Dumas’ classic. Producer and director, Mr Hudson, and all the cast and backstage crew, are to be congratulated on their fine production. Although “All for One and One for All!” was the memorable catch-cry of the King’s Musketeers, it also encapsulates the final product that, for a few nights graced our school hall and took away the gloom of a winter’s evening.