BWW Reviews: Synetic Theater's THE THREE MUSKETEERS Jousts, Duels, and Tumbles its Way to Theater Success
SYNthesis: The coming together of distinct elements to form a whole.
KinETIC: pertaining to or imparting motion, active, dynamic.
SYNETIC Theater: a dynamic synthesis of the arts
Simply put, Synetic Theater's current production of The Three Musketeers (playing now through June 9th) completely, in every way, stands up to all that Synetic Theater proposes to offer by way of a "dynamic synthesis of the arts". Frankly, Synetic knocks it out of the park. Out of the city. Out of the state. Out of the good ole' U.S. of A.
Ben and Peter Cunis develop a creative, ingenious, and inspiring adaptation of Alexandre Dumas's literary classic, The Three Musketeers. Under the direction of Paata Tsikurishvili, actors dance, jab, stab, joust, and tumble their way across the stage, scene after scene, so that when you leave the theatre at the end of the evening, you have no concept that two hours have passed. This is theatre as it should be; at its finest.
Taking place in 17th century Paris during the reign of King Louis XIII, the production's frontrunners (Ben Cunis, as Athos; Matthew Ward as Aramis; Hector Reynoso as Porthos; and Dalls Tolentino as D'Artagnan) guide the audience through Dumas's smart, witty, comical, and intriguing plotline. The Three Musketeers have fallen into a disgraceful lot, and are routinely demoralized even further by the personal guard of Cardinal Richelieu, as played by Dan Istrate. Istrate does a phenomenal job of eliciting "sinister" so that his mere presence on stage leads you to teeter on the edge of your seat waiting for the next plot scheme to unfold.
Concurrently, King Louis' wife, Queen Anne, is having a secret affair with the Duke of Buckingham, and to show her love and devotion to Buckingham, the Queen gives him a diamond necklace, a gift from King Louis (played by Robert Bowen Smith), as he sneaks out of Paris to safety. During his escape, he runs into D'Artagnan, an aspiring Musketeer. As the plot twists and turns, D'Artagnan and the Three Musketeers are tasked with finding Buckingham, retrieving the diamond necklace, and returning it to Queen Anne before the public ball that King Louis throws in their honor. If Queen Anne arrives without the diamond necklace, it is proof to the King that she does not share in his feelings of love between the two. The King will behead the Queen, initiate war, and Cardinal Richelieu will secure his coveted position as the King's biggest ally and confidant - and can use his power to control France and its acquired lands.
It is both Tolentino's portrayal of D'Artagnan and Smith's portrayal of King Louis that leave a lasting mark on this production. Tolentino expertly crafts D'Artagnan in the manner I'm certain Dumas would have approved: naive, humble, determined, slightly arrogant, and above all else, loyal - a true Musketeer in the making. The audience becomes his biggest cheerleader, as he instantly takes his position as "one of the family". Tolentino does a fabulous job of portraying D'Artagnan's innocence and loyalty so that you are instantly drawn to him, want to protect him, and want nothing but the utmost success for him.
Smith's portrayal of King Louis is equally as memorable, though the characters could not be more divergent. King Louis is arrogant, odd, eccentric and anything but vulnerable. He commands his staff around him with no regard for their thoughts or feelings, issues beheadings as if he is ordering a meal at a restaurant, and rules a kingdom with an incredible level of incompetence. Smith expertly highlights his inadequacies as a leader, as a King, and as a humane being. Each scene with Smith is comical, ridiculous, over-the-top, and leaves you anxiously awaiting the next one.
What is perhaps most incredible about this production, however, is the speed, agility, and outright talent with which the actors portray sword fights, horse-riding round-ups, duels, and fist-fights. The choreography is worthy of any large-scale, Broadway production. The actors nail their timing with such precision, professionalism, and accuracy, that one would think they all have long-time side hobbies in fencing.
One of the key elements to Synetic Theater's dramatic productions, as evidenced by their name, is the incorporation of motion, action, and dynamic elements - in creative and artistic ways. Synetic could not have done a better job of bringing its mantra to life through The Three Musketeers. This production is absolutely worthy of a standing ovation - and then some.