The pandemic, and the closure of theatres that accompanied it, brought us no shortage of online theatre. From live Zoom table reads to full blown cinematic masterpieces, an entirely new genre of theatre was born. While many of them went above and beyond, others reflected the limitations of an internet stage. The Three Musketeers – attempted by FoolHardy, finds comedy in the quirks of performing ‘live’ theatre to a remote audience.
Here, Alexandre Dumas’ classic novel, or at least a heavily abridged version of it, is adapted for the virtual stage by FoolHardy, a company who revel in the art of farce. In reality, the adaptation is by Sydney Stevenson, a far more talented playwright than David Du Lesley (Antony Eden) the fictional playwright who introduces us to the show and also takes on the role of d’Artagnan.
The concept is that the troupe of actors are performing the play ‘live’, and we switch between the classic Zoom view and a series of animations that help the audience keep track of the plot. On one hand the animations look highly accomplished, but on the other are missing some vital components, yet another nod to the theatre companies who have simply had to work with what they had over the last eighteen months.
FoolHardy’s version of The Three Musketeers, covers the first part of the novel, with d’Artagnan coming face to face with the infamous Athos, Porthos and Aramis for a duel, before befriending them and setting off to England to recover Queen Anne’s diamond studs, so as to prevent Cardinal Richelieu from exposing the tryst that saw the gems fall in to the hands of Lord Buckingham.
The FoolHardy company experience many of the problems that any of us who have recently relied on video calling has faced. Being on mute at the wrong time, changing settings and dealing with hungry children are just a handful of the issues that arise with hilarious consequences. One or two of the more famous Zoom experiences are also woven in to the story for additional comedic effect.
Robert Lindsay is the only cast member to play themselves, or a version of themselves at least. Taking on the role of the narrator, Lindsay helps guide the story along, while also providing some diva-esque moments to up the ante at key moments. The remainder of the cast play characters, who in turn play the Three Musketeer characters, it’s an accomplished cast with particularly strong performances from Dianne Pilkington and David Bedella.
Joseph O’Malley’s pacey direction brings out the outrageous humour in Sydney Stevenson’s script, the animation could fool you in to believing this was aimed at children but some of the jokes are a little too blue for that to be the case.
The Three Musketeers – attempted by FoolHardy finds pockets of humour in the life we’ve been living, and takes a loving pop at a new brand of theatre. It’s a unique spin on Dumas’ work and one that translates to a riotous swashbuckling adventure.
The Three Musketeers – attempted by FoolHardy is available to stream online until 27th June 2021. Tickets are on sale here.