Comedy version of The Three Musketeers on stage in Barnsley
A new version of classic adventure story The Three Musketeers promises plenty of knockabout comedy on stage.
Members of physical comedy company Le Navet Bete talk about how the show came about. They are on stage at Barnsley Civic on October 4 and 5.
What can you tell us about your show?
So we’ve taken Alexandre Dumas’ classic story – that’s 700 pages of epic adventure – and condensed it into just two hours of high-energy, fun and hugely entertaining theatre for absolutely anyone and everyone to enjoy. It’s a story that’s been told 1,000 times but we’ve put a fun twist on it, remembering childhood days of playing dress-up in dens and treehouses. It’s a great way to let the story play out and audiences have been loving it.
What made you choose this classic adventure tale?
Firstly, we knew it offered a wealth of material that we could put our own comic spin on. The characters and the story offer us huge potential as performers to create a loud and colourful world brimming with fun, chaos, adventure and of course lots of laughs! There’s the comradery between the musketeers (which you could say reflects us as an ensemble), the power struggle between the villainous characters of Milady and Cardinal Richelieu, the love triangles (more like hexagons) that D’Artagnan finds himself wound up in, as well as epic chases across Europe, diamond theft and plenty of scheming and murder. Underpin this with classic British/French rivalry and there’s so much scope for comedy.
What can we expect in terms of the number of characters each of you plays/costume changes?
There are four actors playing over 40 characters in this show and over 100 costume changes in just 90 minutes, it’s ridiculous! We really love to set a challenge for ourselves and it’s extremely satisfying for an audience to see it happen. This time we’re costume changing on stage in full view of the audience which is something we’ve never done before. It’s a huge logistical task but our incredible stage manager Abi Cowan is always on hand to help make it happen… and happen on time!
Can you tell us a bit about the writing process?
The idea for this show has been two years in the making and an unbelievable amount of work from countless people has gone into it. We started out getting the spine of a plot together, along with the director/writer John Nicholson. Then this gets broken down into scenes. We then divide up characters between the four of us and then improvise each scene. John is always writing down bits from these improvisations and it grows and grows each time. It’s an ever-changing beast!
What makes you laugh and who has influenced your style of comedy over the years?
Luckily, we all share a similar taste in comedy and I think that reflects in the work that we make. We all love the old-school British comedies like The Young Ones, Fawlty Towers, Bottom, Blackadder, Father Ted, French and Saunders. They’re all great physical comedians and it’s very silly comedy. We take influence from all sorts in life and just sitting and observing can sometimes give you great ideas for new characters!
Box office: barnsleycivic.co.uk