Review – The Three Musketeers in Lichfield’s Beacon Park
Friday 31 August 2018
By Jono Oates, Features Writer
The Three Musketeers made a recent appearance in Beacon Park as the classic Alexandr Dumas story came to Lichfield!
The Three Musketeers has been see many times on the stage and screen but this performance took place in the open-air using the backdrop of the stage for the Lichfield Proms in Beacon Park (which took place the following evening) and with the three spires of Lichfield Cathedral looking down over the actors’ shoulders.
This was a humorous retelling of the story of the musketeers so although a lot of the characters were well known: D’Artagnan, Aramis, Porthos, Athos, Richelieu etc, the plot lines and characterisations differed from the original – but all in the best comedy taste!
Lichfield was the last-but-one stop for the tour of the production, having visited 17 locations around the country, from Gloucester to Bridgnorth. Their stage was a simple one, yet cleverly represented an inn, a ship, a royal court and a stables to name but a few!
The plot of the original book is loosely followed but this story is more about the comedy elements, with lots of crazy characters, silly voices, pratfalls, slapstick and misunderstandings. The cast consisted of just five actors, all playing numerous roles with bewilderingly quick changes of costume (and facial hair!) which made for great fun and a bit if c challenge to work out who was playing who!
The script was sharp and funny, with lots of laughs and and some nice nods to the local area and to the merry-go-rounds that were all in place for the following night’s Proms in Beacon Park.
In the centenary year of Votes For Women, when the Act was passed in 1918 to give women the vote for the first time, it was good to see a bit of gender reversal as D’Artagnan was played by Holly Nelmes, who gave as good as she got in the verbal, and physical, duels with her male co-stars. The writer, Joe Hackett, played the role of Aramis as well as a John Cleese-esque King of France who kept on popping-up at the mere mention of his name, then disappearing as though in a descending lift behind the scenery. Murray Adams was the bearded Cardinal Richelieu, mixing the evil baddie with the role of the goodie Porthos, Cal Newman was Athos and numerous other characters and Caitlin Gallagher was the female baddie Milady.
Directed by Elise Heavan, the actors were clearly very comfortable with playing this quick moving, fast paced comedy after honing it over the previous sixteen performances and they provided the audience with plenty of laughs and much to enjoy, in such a lovely (and, fortunately, a mild evening outdoors!) setting. Ad-libs and local references helped, as did the comments and banter with the audience as the actors walked from stage to off-stage.
This was an enjoyable romp through one of the most famous novels ever to hit the silver screen and stage, with the added benefit of being performed al-fresco in Lichfield’s lovely, and historic Beacon Park. Hopefully the group will return to entertain Lichfield next year with another fresh air stage production!
The production was by Ian Kennedy Productions