Musketeers deliver a swashbuckling good time
Quests, romance, intrigue, murders, tragedy, comedy and plenty of swordplay in RMTC's latest production
Read this article for free:
Already have an account? Log in here »
To continue reading, please subscribe:
Monthly Digital Subscription
$4.75 per week*
- Enjoy unlimited reading on winnipegfreepress.com
- Read the E-Edition, our digital replica newspaper
- Access News Break, our award-winning app
- Play interactive puzzles
*Billed as $19.00 plus GST every four weeks. Cancel anytime.
Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 25/11/2022 (197 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Traditionally, the last show of the year at Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre has been filled with Christmas cheer, or at least seasonally appropriate in some way.
There is nary a sprig of mistletoe nor a sleigh bell in The Three Musketeers, but it couldn’t be more welcome in these dark days, filled as it is with laughter, warmth and bonhomie.
Set in 1628 and based on the beloved 1844 novel by Alexandre Dumas, the show follows the adventures of the would-be musketeer D’Artagnan, played with wide-eyed naiveté and youthful brio by Melissa Langdon.
He has come to Paris to seek employment with the king’s protectors, the most famous of whom are Athos (Rodrigo Beilfuss), Porthos (Emilio Vieira) and Aramis (Darren Martens), known as much for their outsized personalities as for their feats of derring-do.
D’Artagnan is refused entry to the musketeers, but comes into the trio’s good graces after helping them fight off the henchmen of the evil Cardinal Richelieu (Sharon Bajer), the king’s scheming second-in-command.
After falling for his landlord’s daughter, Constance (Sophie Smith-Dostmohamed), maid to Queen Anne (Krystle Snow), D’Artagnan immediately finds himself embroiled in a secret assignation as a go-between, carrying messages from the queen to her secret lover, England’s Lord Buckingam (Eric Blais), with the help of his new buddies.
Try as one might, it is impossible to talk about The Three Musketeers without using the word “swashbuckling.” The briskly paced work, directed with a sure hand by Christopher Brauer, delivers quests, romance, intrigue, murders, tragedy, affairs and more duels than you can shake an epée at.
As choreographed by Winnipeg fight director Rick Skene, these clashes deliver high-stakes danger while also feeling like a bit of a romp; you’ll almost want to see the play again so you can catch the action you missed.
That action ranges all over Brian Perchaluk’s austere but effective set, a series of staircases, platforms and decks of raw wood, with chandeliers that lower when a formal touch is required.
And while D’Artagnan is the real hero of this tale — Langdon is just the right mix of impetuous and clever — it wouldn’t work if the titular trio weren’t also a believable band of brothers from the moment they bound onto the stage.
Hard-drinking Athos has a seductive swagger, but Beilfuss shows us his bravado is a front for his tortured soul. Vieira is a dandy Porthos, vain, gluttonous and sensuous, but oh-so-likable and loyal to a fault. Aramis is a man torn between the church and his love of adventure (and women); Martens makes him cheekily pious.
Other than the four main characters, everyone in the cast plays multiple roles (the number of quick changes is astonishing and mostly goes off without a hitch; a tiny glitch on opening night was covered up with a clever ad lib from Bajer).
Cory Wojcik is always a reliable comedic presence, but he knocks it out of the park here, whether it’s as Monsieur de Treville or one of the cardinal’s henchmen engaging in an elaborate surrender.
The show is overflowing with too many winning comic performances to mention — though Blais as the simpering King Louis and Tristan Carlucci as the unlikely contender Planchet are highlights — but there are real moments of peril and pathos too.
While the sumptuous costumes by Michelle Bohn are rich in period detail, the music by Daniel Roy has an intentionally anachronistic feel. This kind of thing can work — see the rock soundtrack to Marie Antoinette or Baz Luhrmann’s movie musicals — but here it feels jarring and unnecessary, other than for laughs.
The story, adapted by American playwright Catherine Bush, is, of course, mightily abridged to make a two-hour running time (plus 15-minute intermission), so the relationship between D’Artagnan and Constance is a bit cursorily portrayed, but perhaps the real romance here is the fraternity of the musketeers, whose devotion to each other is truly moving.
When it comes to holiday shows, “All for one and one for all” might just be the new “And to all a good night.”
If you value coverage of Manitoba’s arts scene, help us do more.
Your contribution of $10, $25 or more will allow the Free Press to deepen our reporting on theatre, dance, music and galleries while also ensuring the broadest possible audience can access our arts journalism. BECOME AN ARTS JOURNALISM SUPPORTER Click here to learn more about the project.
Senior copy editor
Jill Wilson writes about culture and the culinary arts for the Arts & Life section.