BWW Reviews: Merced Offers New Version of THE THREE MUSKETEERS
If an Alexandre Dumas version of the San Francisco Charles Dickens Christmas Fair existed, I imagine its skits would look somewhat like Playhouse Merced's current production of "The Three Musketeers." That's no surprise, since writer, director Micah Chandler specializes in sword fights and teaches his own "Dogs of War stage combat performing arts troupe." And Merced's "Musketeers" feels very much so like a community troupe putting together a show. It comes with those low-budget kickers and generally read-through-type acting, but it also includes clear standouts in its cast, a near-perfect script and fantastic scenic design by Corey Strauss.
Film adaptations of the Musketeers tale have taken many various routes with Dumas' classic novel. Chandler's version focuses on the Cardinal's efforts to reveal his queen's infidelity with the Duke of Buckingham. Audiences get less of an evil villain and more political intrigue. Some characters such as the spy Milady De Winter are not fully developed, and Chandler's clever narration scheme could use some work. Watchers of the play sit around the circular set and get up at times to take part in the action. Their role is not always clear, and they often include females taking on male roles or major characters such as the queen, all without any solid disguise. This could work rather well if played on more in the script. Still, all in all, the script works incredibly well, taking a long novel and translating it to the stage.
Of course, it would not be "The Three Musketeers" without the eventual fourth musketeer, d'Artagnan, played by the dashing and energetic Ethan Hennes. Other stars of the production include Gunner Joachin as the jumpy and ridiculously silly Buckingham, and Ron Daily as the deceptive and always plotting Cardinal Richelieu.
Rob Hypes' simple and natural lighting adds to the atmosphere. The scenic design, a circle painted partially on the floor that continues onto the back wall, draws audiences into the world of fencing and duels, perfectly executed by the cast. The positives and negatives of the production balance out. Merced offers a solid and worthwhile adaptation of "The Three Musketeers."
THE THREE MUSKETEERS
Through April 13