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Sydney review: Genesian's Three Musketeers

The Three Musketeers By Alexandre Dumas, adapted by Ken Ludwig

Directed by Mark Banks

Genesian Theatre

420 Kent Street, Sydney

Season: 16 May – 27 June

Bookings: or 1300 237 217

Alexandre Dumas’ classic The Three Musketeers is awash with fencing, romance and heroic deeds that results in an amusing tale suitable for the whole family. The show, staged at the Genesian Theatre and directed by Mark Banks, is produced in a cosy community atmosphere that is accessible and welcoming. Adapted by Ken Ludwig into English and with a few modern tweaks to the original story, the audience follows the quest of d’Artagnan to become worthy of joining the renowned Three Musketeers.

At the beginning the audience meets d’Artagnan who lives a simple country life with his family. He has always dreamed of travelling to Paris to become a Musketeer, dutifully practising his fencing and honing his skills.

When the time finally comes, his parents insist that he takes his younger sister, Sabine, with him so that she can study at the convent school, and their beloved old horse Buttercup.

In spite of the less than gallant travelling conditions, he agrees, in order to pursue his dream. When in Paris, he encounters a range of honourable and dastardly characters where he proceeds to entangle himself in debacle after debacle. He finds love, he finds danger, and ultimately he realises his potential to be a noble Musketeer.

While the play was enjoyable, the acting was generally hammy; perhaps it was endeavouring to suit the light-hearted and idealistic tale at hand.

It should be noted that Genesian Theatre provides a stage for emerging new artists wishing to experiment and sharpen their craft – an absolute necessity in Sydney’s competitive theatre scene.

D’Artagnan’s younger sister Sabine, acted by Joanne Coleman, was a stand out in the cast. She portrayed her role with resolute focus and had a strong stage presence. Interestingly, the character of Sabine was added to Dumas’ original story by Ken Ludwig, to appeal to modern audiences.

Coleman’s headstrong and boisterous depiction of Sabine was a welcome addition to the piece, differing from the traditional damsel in distress stereotyping of female characters.

Tim van Zuylen brought some well-received humour to the piece as King Louis XIII and John Willis-Richards as Cardinal Richelieu was well cast as an archetypal menacing antagonist. The work featured numerous fencing scenes true to Musketeer style, the fighting being directed by Kyle Rowling. This was exciting to see on stage, enhanced by tight choreography and sound effects.

The Three Musketeers is a step back in time, into a traditional fairytale realm where nobility and justice triumph over evil, resulting in a ‘happily ever after’ ending. If you’re looking for some light-hearted theatre, or for a family experience, this could be for you. If you’re after edgy and thought provoking theatre, maybe give it a miss. But with laughs, romance and heroic valour, a bit of idealism injected into your day can’t hurt.

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