THE THREE MUSKETEERS (Quintessence): Swordplay and horseplay combine in a breezy adaptation

Republished with kind permission from Neals Paper.

 Alan Brincks (as Aramis), Michael Brusasco (as Athos), Gregory Isaac (as Porthos), Connor Hammond (as d'Artagnan), Sean Close (as Planchet). Photo by Alexander Iziliaev.
Alan Brincks (as Aramis), Michael Brusasco (as Athos), Gregory Isaac (as Porthos), Connor Hammond (as d’Artagnan), Sean Close (as Planchet). Photo by Alexander Iziliaev.

Ian Rose’s swordplay, Connor Hammond’s youthfully obtuse take on D’Artagnan, and horseplay of all kind contributed to keep Quintessence Theatre’s adaptation of Alexandre Dumas’s THE THREE MUSKETEERS funny and breezy. The show entertains more than it involves you, but Hammond’s incorrigible Gascon bravado, combined with Rachel Brodeur’s subtle juxtaposition of sincerity and sardonic intellect as Madame Bonacieux, Julia Frey’s distressed heroine as Queen Anne, and Ken Sandberg’s sinister take as Rochefort allow some of the texture behind Dumas’s action-filled tale of intrigue, chivalry, and romance in King Louis XIII’s 17th century court to come through.

France is on the brink of war and rebellion, and legions loyal to the influential Cardinal Richelieu compete for military supremacy with soldiers loyal to King Louis, including the royal guard, the Musketeers. Except that they are noble at heart, the musketeers could be models for the Three Stooges. Athos (Michael Brusasco), their leader, is intellectual and has some refinement. Porthos (Gregory Isaac) is an oafish battering ram who is always bumbling into conflict. Aramis (Alan Brincks) is the romantic who finds military life, and the boudoir, exciting. Then there’s D’Artagnan (Connor Hammond), the fourth musketeer, who comes to Paris from Gascony at age 18 full of vinegar and eager to prove he is as competent, useful, and reliable as any who defends the king’s honor and safety.

Ken Sandberg, Connor Hammond (as d'Artagnan), Parke Fech. Photo by Alexander Iziliaev.
Ken Sandberg, Connor Hammond (as d’Artagnan), Parke Fech. Photo by Alexander Iziliaev.

Under Alexander Burns’s direction, the actors convey the boisterousness, rivalry, ribaldry, and companionship of a soldier’s existence. Dumas is smart of give each of his characters big, distinct personalities, and Burns is shrewd about how he brings all this fellowship and color to the Quintessence stage.

Burns’s staging gets comfortably looser and more humorous as his production proceeds. As Madame Boncieux, D’Artagnan’s married love interest, Rachel Brodeur takes THE THREE MUSKETEERS from a lark to a play with substance. She endows her character with such honor, and so pronounced a sense of loyalty and purpose, you would be crushed if she was hurt or did not prevail in her mission.

As always with an Alexander Burns production, imagery is rife, props are creative, and jokes come as much from sight gags as from dialogue. The Quintessence committee that adapted THE THREE MUSKETEERS (Burns, Close, Josh Carpenter, and Mattie Hawkinson) did a good job in retaining Dumas’s congeniality and humor, both in tone and execution, and the dialogue was clear and brisk. Read the full review >> [Sedgwick Theatre, 7137 Germantown Avenue, Mount Airy] April 15-May 10, 2015;

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