Directed by Amanda Delheimer Dimond
Fight Choreography by Matt Hawkins
Produced by Lifeline Theatre
Dumas’s colossal classic story gets a suitably ambitious Lifeline production.
Without a doubt, Lifeline Theatre’s recent stage adaptation of French novelist Alexandre Dumas’s The Three Musketeers contains all the adrenaline-pumping athleticism and quick-turning escapades one may dutifully expect from this timeless adventure story.
And director Amanda Delheimer Dimond’s frequently ingenuous staging—featuring fourteen performers as fifty different characters, set across two countries and over a span of three years—successfully marshals the disparate elements of Dumas’s gargantuan story into something as teasingly thrilling as any Six Flags roller coaster ride. Matt Hawkins fight choreography is especially cinematic in its no holds barred intensity, and sprawls with a kind of epic free-for-all over Alan Donahue’s jungle gym-set of firepoles, balancing beams, and ladders. Still, sustaining such frenzied states of excitement is easier said than done, and by the time Three Musketeers comes to the end of its nearly two and a half hour running time, one cannot help but feel a tad overextended.
Robert Kauzlaric’s ambitious stage adaptation stays fairly close to Dumas’s original novel. Upon arriving in seventeenth-century Paris, young d’Artagnan (Glenn Stanon), recently sent out of doors to make his way in the world, falls into friendship with the infamous Three Inseparables: Athos (Chris Hainsworth), Porthos (Christopher M. Walsh), and Aramis (Dwight Sora). Charged with the defense of the King Louis XIII (Miguel Nunez) against his conspiring chief minister, Cardinal Richelieu (Sean Sinitski), the four embark ‘one for all and all for one’ on a series of political intrigues, amorous affairs, and death-defying escapes, carrying us from the grimy streets of Paris, to ships aboard the high seas, to dreary English dungeons, to the Siege of La Rochelle.
When Three Musketeers does steal a moment to be serious—as in, for example, a love affair struck between d’Artagnan and fellow defender, Constance (Deanna Myers), or in Athos’s waxing bitter on the scourge of woman—it’s not always as emotionally convincing as we might wish it to be, and Mike Przygoda’s otherwise lovely original music sometimes feels intrusively goading, as though forcibly ushering us through a range of emotional experiences that haven’t actually been earned.
Still, the play has an excellent sense of humor, largely driven by Christopher M. Walsh as the Falstaffian Porthos and Chris Hainsworth, whose dryly satirical Athos smartly avoids histrionics, thus grounding the play in a knowingly modern sensibility. And Glenn Stanton as d’Artagnan gives a truly tireless performance, never allowing the script’s rapid-fire shifts in place, time, and mood to overwhelm him. Always entering every scene on cue and fully present in the moment, Stanton shows himself to have rather good instincts, and he dutifully forgoes the pitfall of making d’Artagnan into something too broadly cartoonish.
So I suppose even if The Three Musketeers does manage to exhaust its own action-packed theatrics long before the curtain finally comes down, at least one can’t say that nothing happens. And if Lifeline’s production were simply too overflowing with plot turns, reversal of fortunes, and colorful characters, at least they’d only be following in the footsteps of that wildly self-indulgent novelist Alexandre Dumas. A dizzyingly prolific writer whose collected works comprise 300 volumes, moderation was never Dumas’s strong suit, and there seems little point in trying to impose constraints now.
Reviewed by Anthony J. Mangini
Reviewed Monday, June 10th, 2013.
Running time is approximately 2 hours and 30 minutes with one intermission.
The Three Musketeers runs until July 21st, 2013. Lifeline Theatre is located at 6912 N. Glenwood Ave. For tickets call (773) 761-4477 or visit www.lifelinetheatre.com. Check out their Theater in Chicago listing at https://www.theatreinchicago.com/the-three-musketeers/6031/.