REVIEW: Northern Ballet: The Three Musketeers (Nottingham Theatre Royal) ★★★
Nothern Ballet’s production of The Three Musketeers pirouetted its way into Theatre Royal Nottingham last week.
Watching The Three Musketeers felt a little bit like reading a novel that’s had every other page torn out, creating several plot holes and unexplained scenarios. I once read another reviewer’s comment that the plot “falls over itself”, and I have to agree. It feels empty of any real sentiment and simultaneously tries to do far too much. It would have been far stronger had the plot attempted to tackle half the amount. Even after reading the very detailed programme synopsis extensively before, during, and after watching the play, it felt like an exhausting game of catch up. It’s not enjoyable to watch a production and feel like a schoolchild who hasn’t done their homework.
It seems the title of David Nixon’s ballet itself is lost along the way, as the Three Musketeers actually have a surprisingly small role to play. Often when they do appear, their flouncing and fighting seems to be grounded in detail that wasn’t deemed important enough to divulge to the audience. The choreography they are given just doesn’t seem to gel with their characterisation – it feels like a square peg and a round hole.
Having said that, there are some very well put together scenes adding excitement and breathing a bit of life into the piece. The king dressing up as the queen and, the ‘toss the jewellery box’ scene were amusing and cleverly choreographed, and there are several slapstick moments that are sure to spark a smile.
The costumes are absolutely beautiful, too, and while the set is largely basic and unremarkable, it does contain some nice details such as the Queen’s hideaway chamber. The real action and emotion of the piece is contained within Sir Malcolm Arnold’s score, directed by John Pryce-Jones, which is delicately beautiful and a treat to listen to.
This swash-buckling ballet might not blow your socks off, but it’s definitely worth a watch.
Reviewed by Rosie Bambury
Photo: Emma Kauldhar