The Three Musketeers by Walking Shadow Theatre Co., performing in the Guthrie’s Dowling Studio

Casey Hoekstra and Ross Destiche in The Three Musketeers.  Photo by Dan Norman.

Casey Hoekstra and Ross Destiche in The Three Musketeers. Photo by Dan Norman.

Want to enjoy Walking Shadow Theatre Co.‘s giddy, swashbuckling, sword-happy The Three Musketeers (at the Guthrie‘s Dowling Studio, through May 25)? Here’s my firm advice: go with the sprawl.

Lay aside whatever need you might have for coherent narrative, for sensible multiple casting, for developed non-cinematic structure and let playwright John Heimbuch‘s clutch-popper wash over you. After all, the play, sprawling though it certainly is, is chockful of delicious dialogue, deft turns of character, quick and fun little scenes piled one atop the other. The play features swordplay galore. There’s also camp – cross-gender casting, self-referential asides, etc. Fun if you like this sort of thing (I don’t). Will this The Three Musketeers make perfect sense? It will not, but it’s a heckuva lotta fun.

Nifty also is director Amy Rummenie‘s inventive staging. Rummenie utilizes the whole Dowling space, in ways you’ve likely never seen before. Actors criss-cross constantly; we see them before they enter which adds, imo, narrative energy.

Rummenie is aided and abetted by scenist Joseph Stanley, who gives us a neatly formal library, regularly violated by the stair units which move (incessantly) into various configurations. Symmetrical, yes, but Stanley’s set permits the easy in-and-out of characters, essential to this play.  Nice work, too, by the other designers: E. Amy Hill (her costumes lend the play nice formality, but still allow lots of movement); Karin Olson (effective pools of light); Michael Croswell (his music keeps the proceedings moving).

The essence of The Three Musketeers – the “heat,” as they say in Hollywood – is the “all for one, one for all” camaraderie developed between the Musketeers, and here I have some issues with this production. There’s not enough esprit, imo. Not enough fraternal zest, not enough devil-may-care masculine banter. Too often the Musketeers disappear, leaving us to focus, for quite a long time, on a single character. When they return, the story seems forced. The entrance into the brotherhood of d’Artagnan feels too matter-of-fact.

Also, I would remiss in my duties as your intrepid reviewer if I didn’t point out that The Three Musketeers clocks in at three (3) hours. It’s long, iow, and the length exacerbates the Musketeers problem. One can forgive narrative flabbiness, the overuse of expositional speeches, in a shorter play. But in 3 hours? Yikes.

The performances please, and then some. D’Artagnan, I think somewhat by accident, is the lead, and Bryan Porter acquits himself well, giving the youthful d’Artagnan both dignity and energy. Casey Hoekstra is excellent; he plays the mincing King Louis XIII as well as the evil, bescarred Chevalier Rochefort. His Rochefort slinks brilliantly. Aeysha Kinnunen excels as the gruesomely nasty Milady de Winter. As the eponymous fencing-crazed heroes, Nate Cheeseman, Ross Destiche and (especially) Shad Cooper look great and play with admirable gusto.

Maybe I’m making this up, but there seemed to be a slight (only slight) tentativeness about the performances – opening night jitters, perhaps? As the run goes on, and as the actors settle into their roles, no doubt The Three Musketeers will play even better.

For more info about John Olive, please visit his website.

1 comment for “The Three Musketeers by Walking Shadow Theatre Co., performing in the Guthrie’s Dowling Studio

How Was the Show for You?

Your email address will not be published.