Music &Lyrics: Rob Castell and Tom Sadler
Book: Tom Sadler
Director: Sarah Tipple
Reviewer: Catherine Lewis
Rob Castell, Tom Sadler and Sarah Tipple come together to create a comedy adaptation of Alexandre Dumas’ 17th century classic, The Three Musketeers: Aramis (Pete Sorel-Cameron), Porthos (Harry Stone) and Athos (Russell Walker) are on a mission to save King Louis of France’s honour by retrieving a pair of golden plums and ending the roly poly embargo. Barbershopera’s version comes with many an innuendo set in the context of a simplified plot. The minimalist set remains throughout consisting of a few benches and a couple of trunks for the props. Each of the four cast members works hard changing between rôles with the aid of hats and wigs. The lighting and costumes are basic: there’s little to be said about either.
An Arts Council funded project, the show can best be described as theatre in education in style, tackling a range of current hot topics, including gay marriage, cross dressing and Anglo French relations. Unfortunately, their handling of these subjects lacks subtlety and does little to challenge old stereotypes. The characters for the most part are one dimensional, a poor attempt at carry on comedy.
The show lacks spark and struggles to get really going, at times feeling like a rehearsal. There are some mildly amusing set pieces. This said the humour relies on lame jokes, overacting and a proliferation of cringeworthy school boy innuendoes. The A Cappella musical numbers offer some relief and Laura Darton’s D’Artagnon is very easy on ear, by the far the best voice in the show. The second half sees another round of over hammed Dick Emery style numbers with lots of bottom slapping, reinforcing the archetypal view of the gay community as pink, camp and overtly flamboyant.
The small house at this performance made their job all the harder: they could have done with some enthusiastic audience participation but unfortunately none was forthcoming. The final reprise of ‘All for Fun and Fun for All’ breaks away from the traditional barbershop A Capella into a more upbeat singalong and gives us an indication that the cast are definitely capable of more than what’s on offer. A talented cast but the production does not serve them well nor do them justice.
On tour til the end of October