What a wonderful way to start the summer theatre season! It was glorious to bask outdoors in the balmy evening air on the warm stone amphitheatre steps, under the bluest of skies.Seating was so “socially distanced” that masks weren’t needed, and it was such a treat to enjoy again the experience of being part of an audience, watching this seventeenth century drama play out against the perfect backdrop: the historic sun-soaked walls of the
I have been waiting for a decade to see a Morgan and West show. Year after year, their distinctive faces grew ever more familiar in the publicity for their Magic and Science Magic shows, but these were so popular they always sold out before I reached the box office.
Morgan and West have been performing together for well over ten years, from student days onwards. Two
The Three Musketeers represents something of a departure: not only is this their first pretty much magic-free show, but also their double-act has been swelled by the addition of a third cast member, Peter Clifford.This provides enough actors for the three Musketeers …. but what about D’Artagnan? And all the other characters?Of course, the cast have to double up, and double up, and double up again.And the way they manage this, with quick costume changes, emergency trips to the privy and “Hello, I’m” name-badges etc, has the audience doubled up with laughter.
Like many a Dickens novel, The Three Musketeers was written and published as a serialisation, chapter by chapter. Alexandre Dumas produced a lengthy, complicated narrative featuring many characters. In this production, the female personae are entirely omitted, apart from brief plot-driven references to the Queen. The main focus is on the first five of the book’s 67 chapters, establishing the main characters; thereafter the plot is simplified to the barest of bones and whizzed through at lightning speed.
Essentially, this show comprises all the main features of a pantomime (apart from the sparkly princess and the cross-dressing): slapstick, cheesy puns (literally), even a moo-ving pantomime cow. There is entertaining meta-drama, as the cast members squabble about who is playing which of the many characters; wordplay (“did you see my Bottom in A Midsummer Night’s Dream?” and more confusing uses of the word “second” than you might have thought possible); and a delicious parody from Cardinal Richelieu of an Oscar acceptance speech. My favourite episode was a hilarious scene in which a Frenchman and an Englishman tried to communicate across the language barrier… both speaking EFL.As you would expect, there is also a lot of swashbuckling swordplay and sleight of hand.
The opening scenes were slicker than some of the later ones (probably more well-rehearsed) and some of the fight scenes were a little protracted and slower than I would have expected – but I believe Saturday was only the second live performance so I expect these will get pacier with practice.
Although this is clearly a family-oriented show, the audience included a fair proportion of unaccompanied adults, and everyone found it entertaining. It is fair to say, however, that in terms of volume the children produced the bulk of the laughter – chortles and cackles and shrieks and giggles galore!
The next open air performances within reach of