Writer: Tom Sadler
Music: Rob Castell
Director: Sarah Tipple
Reviewer: Naomi Stevens
“All for fun and fun for all!”
It would be fair to say that most people know what opera is. Most even know what ‘Barber Shop’ singing is. There is also a strong likelihood that people will have some idea of who The Three Musketeers are. However, combine them together and you get an hilarious mix of songs all sung a capella – more in the style of a cheesy musical than a classic opera – and an entirely revamped novel. This is Barbershopera and their unique work has been entertaining audiences since 2007.
An unusual production, the cast has a grand total of four members, though there are a number of characters and each performer plays a combination of male, female, wealthy and poor personas. Despite the number of characters, however, it is easy to follow. Director Sarah Tipple has done a clever job with at least three times the number of rôles to performers, a set comprising of a trunk and two benches and a number of props. Aided also by Russell Smith, who’s choreography is both funny and clever and really enhances Tipple’s direction, The Three Musketeers lack of backdrop and set certainly make for an easy touring production, but a lavish set is not required here.
The cast consists of Laura Darton, a recent graduate making her professional debut with the company, though you would not know it as she performs confidently throughout, her largest rôle being that of Nicole D’Artagnan. Pete Sorel-Cameron, Harry Stone and Russell Walker make up the quartet of actors and once again play a multitude of other parts, largely Athos, Porthos and Aramis, the Musketeers. Walker also plays the Duke of Buckingham and absolutely steals the show with his hilarious portrayal of this character. He had the audience in stitches on a number of occasions.
The story itself is not exactly true to the novel by Alexandre Dumas – anyone expecting this will be in for a shock, the only real similarities being the names of the Musketeers themselves. What the audience does get, however is a lively and fun production, with some parts which could have been lifted straight from Monty Python’s Flying Circus, one of these being the spanking number, a definite highlight.
The quality of the singing is good, though diction is occasionally lost and this is a shame as much of the funny lines come across through the music. However, the voices themselves harmonise nicely and no individual drowns out any of the others so a nice balance is maintained. A few of the songs are extremely familiar, but the lyrics most certainly are not. Lighting changes are minimal, but when they are used then they do provide extra emphasis to the particular scenes.
In all a very novel production, it is farcical, full of double entendre and utterly ridiculous but is a refreshing change from standard musicals and also from your average funny play. If massive orchestras, expensive effects and vibrant costumes are what you’re after, then this is not the show for you, but if you are looking for something a little different and which leaves you smiling then this would certainly be well worth a viewing.
Runs until 12th August 2013