Spectacular! The Three Musketeers
Rating: 4 Stars out of 4 * * * *
by John Holmes
Bristol Old Vic’s spectacular new production of The Three Musketeers certainly lives up to its swashbuckling billing. Though it’s not traditional festive fare, a mixture of love, adventure and good old fashioned values means it’s a seasonal production in all but name.
Ken Ludwig’s new adaptation takes liberties with the plot of Alexander Dumas’ novel and, more significantly, the elevated roles of the female leads Sabine (Samantha Robinson) and Constance (Charity Wakefield), who succeed in adding an extra dimension to the testosterone-fuelled story.
Ludwig resists any need for flowery Francophone language, instead offering a feisty modern translation that the cast delivers with impeccable comic timing.
George Rainsford plays a typically earnest D’Artagnan, but it’s the dynamic between the three original musketeers that steals the show. There’s as much humour as drama, with Porthos’s (Paul Agar) musinings on the era’s baffling religious politics – ‘So now Christians are fighting each other about how much Latin they can use in church’ – a particularly entertaining aside.
Though it rattles along a little too quickly after the interval for the more dramatic sections to have a real emotional impact, this is a visual feast that’s still knowing and intelligent enough to elevate it above typical big-budget festive spectaculars.
Fiona Dunn as Quenn Anne and Julian Ball as King Louis in the Bristol Old Vic production of The Three Musketeers; PC: Alastair Muir