Three Musketeers and the Princess of Spain, Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh: Review


Dominic Hill’s production of The Three Musketeers and the Princess of Spain shows a startling contrast to the sentimentality that is generally seen at Christmas shows. Whilst retaining a fairytale charm, its dark nature and occasional profanities make it a divergence from traditional family entertainment. This, however, does not detract from the excellent performances and originality with which Hill redefines the fairytale genre.

Set in a Paris on the cusp of being overthrown, it is up to hero D’Artagnan (Oliver Gomm) to safely unite the Princess of Spain (Beatriz Romilly) with the King of France (Alexander Campbell) and bring peace between warring countries and order within France. Written by Chris Hannan and inspired by the French writer Alexandre Dumas, this is not a recreation of his book but instead a completely new work that sees Dumas’ valiant protagonists reduced from their former glory to an alcoholic, a philogynist and an overweight narcissist who have been forced underground as exiles by an autocratic cardinal.

Featuring an incredibly versatile cast, Hill’s production is a two and a half hour romp through witty gags and songs to some impressive swordfights and puppetry skills. Offering easy to watch, light entertainment, this is a pantomime without the irritating audience participation. The conventional battle of good vs. bad is retained with a benevolent humour as the heroes conveniently manage to continuously escape without any fatalities, with Mendus providing the perfect backdrop for a villainous tyrant. An inventive score delivered by each member of the cast adds not only comedy but ingenuity to the piece, whilst the use of the man-eating puppet Lord Mandible, and stilts to create the illusion of the central characters being children, brings creativity and life to the fable. Whilst not your conventional fairytale, Hill offers an enlightening change to Christmas theatre that although perhaps not suitable for young children is well worth the watch for anyone else.

Taken from The Journal, published online Thu Jan 27th 2011.

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