The Three Musketeers at St Paul’s Church
Iris Theatre’s The Three Musketeers is a thoroughly enjoyable outdoor production with drama, laughs and intensity.
The play more or less follows the original story by Alexandre Dumas. D’Artagnan, an impulsive youth from Gascony, heads to Paris with dreams of becoming a King’s Musketeer. Here he quickly runs into Athos, Porthos and Aramis and their adventures begin as they attempt to protect France and her monarchy from the scheming Cardinal.
Trying to distil a 600-page epic into just two hours is a difficult job. Daniel Winder, the show’s writer, has a pretty good go at it, but ultimately falls a bit short. The first part feels rushed. At one point, the Musketeers are called to adventure and then the story skips to one week later as the quest comes to a close. The characters also aren’t developed as richly as they could be (with the exception of Milady).
That’s not to say, however, that the staging isn’t good. It’s still tremendous fun. Winder has added a bit of comedy to proceedings and the actors’ back-and-forth dialogue with the audience is great.
Besides, this version feels like it is more about Milady than anyone else. And she comes across every bit as rich and detailed as Dumas created her. Ailsa Joy plays the part brilliantly: she is fearsome and deranged, skilled and wily.
In this version, D’Artagnan is a woman pretending to be a man. This adds an interesting element to the story, asking what women have to do in order to prove themselves in a patriarchal world. It also creates a wonderful parallel with Milady. But there’s a huge build up at the top, suggesting that there is something more to her role, and that she’s someone of import or carrying some secret message. The interesting part is that we as an audience know she’s a woman in disguise, trying to get by in life, trying to prove herself, trying to survive, but the opening sets up the reveal as more important than the struggle.
Despite this lack of payoff with D’ Artagnan, the ending is absolutely fantastic. The second part flows much better, alleviating all previous issues. And the final battle scene, featuring Milady facing off against the Musketeers, is jaw-droppingly epic.
This promenade performance of The Three Musketeers, set around the beautiful gardens of St Paul’s Church, is a fun affair. Not without problems but certainly an entertaining evening for all – especially families.
Photo: Nick Rutter
The Three Musketeers is at St Paul’s Church from 2nd August until 2nd September 2018. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.