“Ridiculous, but genius”
The Three Musketeers is one of my all-time favourite books, and as an epic tale of friendship and valour, I was intrigued as to how it would work as a two-man comedy in under an hour. As it turns out, it is hilarious.
I lost track of the number of characters they played between them after just a few minutes – men and women of all shapes and sizes, an array of animals, and people that could well have been animals.
It sounds ridiculous, and in many senses it was, but it is also genius. They kept the plot fairly accurate (give or take a few creative embellishments) and it was – remarkably – quite easy to follow. But that is coming from someone who already knows the story – for those who don’t, I can imagine it looked like two idiots in pajamas running around with multiple personality disorder.
My absolute favourite of the characters portrayed was the slithering swamplike Cardinal and his range of repulsive yet hilarious noises. This was also the most clearly defined character in the performance, with strong physicality, accent and language. Other highlights for me were how the personalities of Athos, Porthos and Aramis (the real musketeers) were distilled into very simple caricatures, and how Allen and Chavez could jump between them seamlessly.
What really kept the show alive was the fact that throughout, the two actors always seemed to be keeping each other on their toes, with various, seemingly improvised, Family Guy-esque capers into similes and side stories. There were just enough of these to keep variety and energy, without them detracting too much away from the plot and purpose of the piece.
The pair were more than ably supported by musician Ignacio Agrimbau, who also seemed to semi-improvise sounds and music to support the action, given the selection of instruments he had in front of him. This was always done very effectively, and moments where actors and musician interacted were also very amusing.
What could be seen as a good or bad thing, or indeed just a thing, was that Allen and Chavez never once seemed like they were actually “acting”, more just capering around as if having fun in their own spare time. They were very knowledgeable and confident in what they were doing, very in tune with one another, and the piece flowed with the ease of a stream of consciousness or children in their own fantasy world. The apparent effortlessness gave it an incredibly professional feel and it was easy to engage with from the get go.
Reviewer: Steve Griffin (Seen 8 August)
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