The Three Musketeers

Rating ***
Reviewed by Michaela Clement-Hayes

The Three Musketeers – St James Theatre – 13th July 2013

An acapella comedy musical was the tagline for this production, which obviously is incredibly intriguing. So with anticipation we headed to the St James Theatre to see Barbershopera’s The Three Musketeers.

Set in France, the story tells of the disaster that has befallen France – the British have blockaded the Channel and nobody can import Jam Roly-Poly! The residents of PissyPooville are desperate, but who can help them? Only The Three Musketeers if they can be persuaded to get off their high horse and help. It’s up to young Nicole D’Artagnan (the lovely Laura Darton in an excellent professional debut) to save the day by disguising herself as a boy with a fake moustache and glasses! Genius.

What makes this all the more amusing is that the English visitors have the classic ‘Allo ‘Allo accents, or speak French, yet the French characters speak English.

In true barber shop style, the cast was small – three men and one lady – but all four cast members are strong comic actors (particularly Harry Stone) with impeccable timing. Props and costumes were on and off in seconds as characters doubled up, but this only added to the humour, especially when King Louis (Pete Sorel Cameron) is talking to Aramis (Pete Sorel Cameron) and the presence of a hat/wig alone make the distinction between King, Musketeer and Peasant!

Although the acapella was slightly disappointing, the singing was not. Simple refrains with amusing lyrics (by Rob Castell and Tom Sadler) were sung well by all and kept the audience giggling.

There was plenty of over acting, but this is necessary in a production where peasants are stroking golden plums, handkerchiefs are stained with creme anglais and “Bucky” (the Duke of Buckingham, played fabulously by Russell Walker) is teaching everyone a dance involving spanking…

In fact the play is non-stop silliness, as Dumas’s classic tale is turned on its head and subjected to ridicule and hilarity with cross-dressing, flamboyant aristocrats and a lot of quick changes.

Men are men, but also women and Darton not only plays a man, but also a woman playing a man. Mistaken identity, romance and adventure, in a cross between Blackadder and Monty Python.

The production is perhaps slightly too long as the cast received a standing ovation at what the audience thought was the end, but in fact there was another five or so minutes, which added nothing to the story and was perhaps slightly OTT.

However, this production is great fun, so if you want a night where you will laugh out loud, gasp in horror and leave with some ridiculous song stuck in your head (All for fun and fun for all is particularly catchy), go and see it! You will giggle a lot. But somebody please tell me why there was a yellow duck on the piano?