‘Swashbuckling family fun’: THE THREE MUSKETEERS – St Paul’s Church ★★★★

In Children's theatre, London theatre, Opinion, Plays, Reviews by Debbie GilpinLeave a Comment

St Paul’s, The Actor’s Church, Covent Garden, London
Until 2 September 2018

The second show in Iris Theatre’s summer season at St Paul’s (the Actor’s Church) this year, following on from their production of Shakespeare’s The Tempest, is an adaptation of Alexandre Dumas’ classic novel, The Three Musketeers.

It’s time to head to 17th-century Paris with d’Artagnan, desperate to become a Musketeer – but hiding a secret that could bring those dreams crashing down in an instant. A young woman convincingly disguised as a man, she defies the odds and (despite coming to blows early on) befriends the “Inseparables”: Athos, Porthos and Aramis.

The Musketeers soon find themselves stuck in the middle of a plot to bring down the Queen, instigated by Cardinal Richelieu and carried out by Milady de Winter; they have discovered a relationship between the Queen and Englishman Lord Buckingham, and are set to uncover it thanks to a gift of diamonds. It’s up to d’Artagnan and the Inseparables to retrieve them in time and thwart the Cardinal’s plan. Will they all make it back alive?

I’ll start with the practical advice. It doesn’t mention this on their website, but (like The Tempest) this is a promenade production; it moves around different locations within the church’s garden (as well as inside the church itself) for different scenes. You do get to sit down for all of the performance – bar one short scene late on – but just be aware that you’ll not have the chance to get comfortable! It’s also unfortunate that Covent Garden Market sees fit to produce an incredible amount of noise pollution during the early stages of the show; the actors do a sterling job of ramping up the action and drama, but it can be hard to feel involved when you can hear various James Brown tracks blaring in the background…

Nonetheless this is a fantastic piece of family theatre. Abby&Alice’s set designs really transport you to 17th century Paris, making great use of the quirky garden spaces for each new set – indeed, it’s interesting to see how the setup compares with the summer’s previous show. Having a couple of scenes inside the church is much appreciated for slightly chillier evenings, as well as being an atmospheric setting for the ball and the final showdown in the convent. Paul-Ryan Carberry’s direction keeps the audience on its toes, and fight director Roger Bartlett provides some memorable moments of swashbuckling action.

The Three Musketeers Photo credit: Nick Rutter

The energetic cast of seven bring the show to life with vibrancy and enthusiasm, coping admirably with the attentions of some infant Musketeers keen to get in on the action, and keeping everyone engaged in the story from start to finish.

Being a woman accentuates d’Artagnan’s outsider status, and Jenny Horsthuis plays this brilliantly, combining youthful passion with an iron will to succeed in this man’s world. Albert de Jongh unfortunately suffered an injury during rehearsals for the show, but they have remarkably managed to work around his need to support his leg on crutches – and he puts in an entertaining performance, particularly as wannabe priest (& reluctant soldier) Aramis.

Stephan Boyce has a big job on his hands, running hither & thither as Planchet, Treville, Rochefort & Lord Winter. He is especially enjoyable as the put-upon servant Planchet (where he plays up the constant doubling to great comedic effect) and contrasts this with an authoritative portrayal of Musketeer captain Treville. Ailsa Joy is suitably dastardly as the villainous Milady de Winter, and holds the narrative together well as the main storyteller. She has a great stage presence – and you definitely would not want to cross her!

The Three Musketeers Photo credit: Nick Rutter

My verdict? Swashbuckling family fun that keeps you on your toes from start to finish – a perfect summer treat!

Rating: 4*

The Three Musketeers runs at St Paul’s Church until 2 September 2018. Tickets are available online.

Advertisements

Tags: Abby&Alice, Ailsa Joy, Albert de Jongh, Alexandre Dumas, Iris Theatre, Jenny Horsthuis, London, Paul-Ryan Carberry, review, Roger Bartlett, St Paul’s Church, Stephan Boyce, The Three Musketeers, theatre, West EndCategories: all posts, review, theatre

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

Debbie Gilpin on FacebookDebbie Gilpin on RssDebbie Gilpin on Twitter
Debbie Gilpin
Debbie Gilpin stumbled into writing about theatre when she moved to London after studying for a degree in Human Genetics at Newcastle University. She started her website Mind the Blog in November 2014 and also tweets from @Mind_the_Blog. She spent the best part of 2014-16 inadvertently documenting Sunny Afternoon in the West End, and now also writes for BroadwayWorld UK. Debbie’s theatre passions are Shakespeare and new writing, but she’s also a sucker for shows with a tap routine.
Read more...

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Debbie Gilpin on FacebookDebbie Gilpin on RssDebbie Gilpin on Twitter
Debbie Gilpin
Debbie Gilpin stumbled into writing about theatre when she moved to London after studying for a degree in Human Genetics at Newcastle University. She started her website Mind the Blog in November 2014 and also tweets from @Mind_the_Blog. She spent the best part of 2014-16 inadvertently documenting Sunny Afternoon in the West End, and now also writes for BroadwayWorld UK. Debbie’s theatre passions are Shakespeare and new writing, but she’s also a sucker for shows with a tap routine.

Leave a Comment