Review: Family-friendly ‘Musketeers’ is all for fun at Shakespeare Tavern

From left, Sabine (Anna Holland), Porthos (O’Neil Delapenha), D’Artagnan (Daryel T. Monson) and Aramis (Kevin Roost) in "The Three Musketeers" at Shakespeare Tavern Playhouse. The run is through June 30.

Credit: Photo by Jeff Watkins

Credit: Photo by Jeff Watkins

From left, Sabine (Anna Holland), Porthos (O’Neil Delapenha), D’Artagnan (Daryel T. Monson) and Aramis (Kevin Roost) in "The Three Musketeers" at Shakespeare Tavern Playhouse. The run is through June 30.

This story was originally published by ArtsATL.

When Shakespeare Tavern Playhouse breaks away from productions by the Bard, the results can be spirited fun. But as much as its take on ”The Three Musketeers” wants to be all for fun and fun for all, its dazzling elements don’t overcome some of the script weaknesses.

Families with children, in particular, will have a blast with the swashbuckling adventure, running through June 30. It’s silly, appropriate for all ages and action-packed with great stunt work. There are lots of cool, well-choreographed sword fights, and every performer gets a piece of the action. Kids will love this.

The Three Musketeers (from left, Benedetto Robinson, O’Neil Delapenha and Kevin Roost) challenge D’Artagnan (Daryel T. Monson).

Credit: Photo by Jeff Watkins

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Credit: Photo by Jeff Watkins

But the script by Ken Ludwig, adapted from the Alexandre Dumas novel in a way that tries to streamline the plot, doesn’t provide much in the way of character development or emotional depth — particularly for the title trio of French royal guardsmen, who function more effectively as a daring unit than as individuals. The script relies a lot upon goofy humor, so moments with raised emotional stakes lose their impact.

But, as directed by Andrew Houchins, it all moves briskly.

D’Artagnan, the young protagonist whose perspective we follow for the tale, is played by Daryel T. Monson as a capable Everyman with good intentions who keeps finding himself in danger. His initial stumblings en route to Paris cause him to run afoul of heroes and villains alike, as well as encounter his damsel in distress, Constance (Gabi Anderson).

Porthos (O’Neil Delapenha, center) enjoys a drink and good company with barmaids (Samantha Lancaster, left, and Imani Joseph, right).

Credit: Photo by Jeff Watkins

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Credit: Photo by Jeff Watkins

In Ludwig’s script, the squire Planchet, who assists D’Artagnan, is actually his spunky sister Sabine in disguise, played with energy and humor by Anna Holland.

As Athos, Benedetto Robinson is a skilled fighter and able leader, yet the character’s intriguing past is only hinted at in a few scenes. Porthos (O’Neil Delapenha) is funny, and Delapenha knows how to charm a crowd. Aramis (Kevin Roost), who is training for the priesthood, has a very good recurring gag wherein he’s flustered by any attention from Sabine.

With five able heroes engaging in the elaborate duels, choreographed by Jake and Darby Guinn, the stage can get a bit crowded with action, but there is a lot of impressive stunt work going on here. One of the highlights was a fight involving perfectly synchronized fighting occurring on the stage and in the balcony at once.

The villains of “The Three Musketeers” — seeking to overthrow the King — are Cardinal Richelieu (Adam King), the mysterious Milady (Samantha Lancaster) and henchman Rochefort (Tyren Duncan). Each performer makes a good impression, though Lancaster is a standout for the relish and viciousness she gives Milady.

Jake West’s portrayal of the king as a foppish fool leads to some good laughs reminiscent of “The Scarlet Pimpernel.”

It’s a large ensemble and a very action-oriented show aimed specifically at family entertainment. “The Three Musketeers” is not complex or layered, but it is fun.


THEATER REVIEW

“The Three Musketeers”

At Shakespeare Tavern Playhouse through June 30. 7:30 p.m. Thursdays-Fridays, 2:30 and 7:30 p.m. Saturdays and 2:30 p.m. Sundays. 499 Peachtree St. NE, Atlanta. 404-874-5299, shakespearetavern.com

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Benjamin Carr is an ArtsATL editor-at-large who has contributed to the publication since 2019 and is a member of the American Theatre Critics Association, the Dramatists Guild, the Atlanta Press Club and the Horror Writers Association. His writing has been featured in podcasts for iHeartMedia, onstage as part of the Samuel French Off-Off Broadway Short Play Festival and online in The Guardian. His debut novel, “Impacted,” was published by The Story Plant.

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Credit: ArtsATL

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Credit: ArtsATL

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