Review: The Three Musketeers: Attempted by FoolHardy (online)

With the news that the full reopening of theatres has been delayed until July, many of us are in need of a good laugh. Thankfully FoolHardy Productions is on hand to entertain with its latest comedy, an online production of The Three Musketeers.

This play within a play format sees David Du Lesley (Anthony Eden) directing a new production of The Three Musketeers over zoom with his team of actors and special guest star Robert Lindsay. Lindsay, who once played D’Artagnan on stage, has high hopes, but when he discovers he’s only playing the narrator and that there isn’t the budget for a rehearsal before the live performance, he soon realises this isn’t the production he hoped for.

In reality this adaptation of The Three Musketeers is written by Sydney Stevenson and is great fun from start to finish. Alexandre Dumas’s classic tale is brought to life with a combination of live action and animation, and tells the story of D’Artagnan and the Three Musketeers journeying to England to thwart the evil Cardinal Richelieu’s plans and retrieve the Queen’s jewels that she bestowed on her lover, the Duke of Buckingham. But of course, nothing goes to plan, and as the play progresses chaos ensues. Barbara Owczarek’s animations, remniscent of 80s cartoons and Monty Python, are bold, colourful and detailed, but they’re missing one thing…the characters themselves. This effect, although a little disorientating at first, adds to the humour of the piece and highlights just where Du Lesley’s budget is lacking. Elsewhere the action is interrupted by discussions over the accuracy of the script – whether pockets were invented or the Eiffel Tower was built at that time, and, of course, zoom mishaps. Over the past 15 months we’ve all endured zoom calls which didn’t go to plan, and The Three Musketeers highlights the very best of these, whether it’s Dianne Pilkington being interrupted by a hungry child or David Bedella being caught out in his pants. The show doesn’t take itself seriously, and this light-hearted silliness is just what we need right now.

The cast really get into the spirit of things and entertain throughout. Robert Lindsay is delightful as an exaggerated version of himself, frustrated at being resigned to the role of narrator and equally unimpressed as things start to fall apart. Antony Eden amuses as David Du Lesley, who casts himself as both hero and villain with two of the main parts: D’Artagnan and Cardinal Richelieu. It’s great to see his composure dwindle as his new ‘groundbreaking’ production begins to fall apart.  David Bedella, although underused as the King, is hilarious as Porthos, who’s obsessed with pockets, while it’s great to see a female Athos, with Sarah Kameela Impey giving a fine performance as someone who’s less than impressed with Du Lesley’s production. Dianne Pilkington is always a joy and is impressive as the cunning Milady De Winter, Matthew Curnier amuses as Aramis and the Duke of Buckingham, while Lydea Perkins is a breath of fresh air as Maisie Stephens, who questions some of the more sexist elements of the play and how her character, the Queen, is treated.

There’s a lot to fit in during this 70-minute show but Joseph O’Malley directs this swashbuckling adventure to great effect, resulting in a fast-paced production which holds its pace throughout. At a time when many of us are experiencing ‘zoom fatigue’, this refreshing production shows just how innovative online theatre can be. An imaginative and hugely entertaining production, The Three Musketeers is well worth a watch.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Three Musketeers is available to view until 27 June. To book tickets visit www.musketeersonline.com

Photo credit: Mark Senior

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