Groaning With Giggles - Venue Magazine
by Steve Wright
"If a man insults you, turn the other cheek. If he insults you again, kill him." This line comes early on tonight, as D'Artagnan prepares his eager young sprog for his journey from rural Gascony to teeming Paris, there to train as one of the king's elite guardsmen. And it sets the tone for the rest of the evening: there's plenty of honour, dignity and gallantry in this kinetic adaptation of Dumas's swashbuckler; but, where necessary, there's plenty of (family-friendly) violence too.
The remark also gets one of the biggest laughs of the night, which is also how things are gonna be, for Ken Ludwig's script is fairly groaning with giggles.
There's plenty of amiable buffoonery between the eponymous trio, all excellent (Gerald Kyd's Athos, lovelorn and serious; Vyelle Croom's womanising Aramis; and, best of all, Paul Agar's Porthos, snappy and highly strung like a well-bred terrier).
D'Artagnan and the sword-wielding threesome pit their wits and swords against the dastardly Cardinal Richelieu (an excellent Kenneth Williams turn from Robin Sebastian) and his sidekick Milady (Laura Rogers, ballsy and sinister), and things go from bright to bleak in pleasingly yo-yo fashion.
The humour is Blackadderish -plenty of 'oh bugger' and 'oh shut up' - while Julien Ball's King Louis is a hilariously feckless fop. The addition of D'Artagnan's sister (the Tiggerish Samantha Robinson) throws up lots of gender-bending confusion and adds a nice feminine strand.
In short, about as much fun as you would expect, and then a little more.
Robin Sebastian as Cardinal Richelieu and Paul Benzig as Rochefort in the Bristol Old Vic production of The Three Musketeers; PC: Alastair Muir