The madcap, rollicking adaptation of Alexandre Dumas’s The Three Musketeers currently onstage at Hedgerow Theatre, written and directed by Matthew Tallman, is a fitting tribute to the genre Dumas founded. Tallman fully understands the universal theme of a young person trying to navigate the world and its mysteries.
Dumas wrote this historical adventure in 1844, mining the era of effete King Louis XIII, his wily adviser Cardinal Richelieu, and the uneasy relations between France and England during the years 1625 to 1628. Over the decades, the story of the young and ambitious d’Artagnan yearning to be one of the king’s exalted (but bawdy) musketeers has been adapted countless times in film, television, animations, video games, web series, and onstage, because this swashbuckling tale still captivates.
How do we make our way?
In his program notes, Tallman notes the questions of this “electrifying journey,” like “How do I find my place? ... What do I do when I’m confronted with people, ideas, events that change those things I thought I wanted? How do I make my way on my adventure?”
The company performing the ensuing adventure is top notch and keeps the audience laughing at the perfectly timed jokes, double entendres, and physical comedy. Wide-eyed d’Artagnan, played with naive eagerness by Owen Corey, is the fulcrum for all the excitement. The devilish musketeers, Athos (Kevin Aoussou), Porthos (Mark Swift), and Aramis (Christopher Waters), work well as a tight ensemble within the larger cast. Their swordplay and choreography draw gasps from the audience.
The women in the cast excellently play the female stereotypes assigned to them, but with a bit of vinegar. Julianne Shaub is the cocky Constance, love interest of d’Artagnan and a member of the dreaded Red Guard (many of the actors played multiple parts), and Jessica DalCanton stands out as the virtuous queen, the scheming Milady, and an elderly rooming-house proprietor threatened continuously by Cardinal Richelieu and his minions.
Some of the biggest laughs rock the crowd whenever Robert Smythe as Richelieu oils his way onto the stage, scheming and conniving against the pathetic King Louis VIII (a hilarious Jared Reed, Hedgerow’s artistic director). Reed plays so many parts that one longs to be backstage to see how he transforms so quickly from one part to another.
Ask the kids
The dynamic set (by Sebastian Kearney) is perfect for all the action; the lighting (by Andrea Rumble-Moor) and design keep up with all the fencing, running, jumping, horseback riding, and dying, letting larger-than-life thespianism run free.
This humble reviewer brought her nine-year-old grandson to the show and counted only four other children in the audience, among a sea of senior citizens—unfortunate, since this show should definitely be enjoyed by all ages. Did these kids, raised on CGI, YouTube, and video games, recoil from live theater taking place on a single stage, with only lighting to simulate special effects? Nope. They loved it—I asked them.
So go and enjoy some swordplay, silliness, and sneaky palace villains being undone by a youthful heart. And take your kids!
What, When, Where
The Three Musketeers. Adapted and directed by Matthew Tallman. Through May 26, 2019, at Hedgerow Theatre, 64 Rose Valley Road, Rose Valley, PA. (610)-545-4211 or HedgerowTheatre.org.