Post by Clarissa Fortin
Swordfighting, court intrigue, and a sprinkling of romance: the current Ottawa Little Theatre production of Ken Ludwig’s The Three Musketeers has everything an adventure seeker could hope for. I knew nothing about musketeers when I stepped into the theatre but before long found myself totally immersed.
This play is populated with corrupt elites, earnest young heroes, a femme fatale and other figures familiar to adventure stories. The actors fully commit to their archetypal roles and imbue them with life and believability. This play is truly an ensemble effort and director Stavros Sakaidis has assembled a talented group.
Christopher Glen does some enjoyable scenery chewing as the scheming Cardinal Richleiu. Rebecca Laviolette puts on a genuinely frightening and moving performance as the Cardinal’s deadly assassin Milady. Robbie Clement is charming as our young hotheaded hero D’Artagnan, and Emily Walsh is equally wonderful as his gender-bending, sword wielding younger sister.
And, crucially, the three musketeers themselves are every bit as swashbuckling, and full of derring-do as this story requires them to be. The audience cheered as soon as they appeared, swords drawn, and that’s because these three young actors seem instantly at ease onstage together. I never doubted that Athos (Ian Gillies), Porthos (John Dickey), and Aramis (Ezechial Leno) were engaged in a long, loyal bromance of epic proportions.
This is a well-staged show. The rolling set is easily moved and morphs convincingly into various locations – from the little town of Gascony, all the way to grand castles in Paris and London. This stage crew is clearly well practised in moving the set swiftly and carefully – all of the transitions I saw seemed to go smoothly.
In a play with this many fight scenes there’s always a risk of confusing your audience. While the larger fights do get a tad chaotic, our lead characters are well established and easy to locate in the fray. And the fighting itself looks excellent (Disclaimer: I’ve learned all I know about sword fighting from watching Lord of the Rings and Legend of Zorro). The entire ensemble fully commits to the urgency and excitement of each battle. I heard audible gasps and cheers in the audience.
One particular exchange brought me to the edge of my proverbial seat. Without giving too much away, Athos and Milady share a tragic history. In a scene during the second act these two characters confront each other about the past in a fight that is as suspenseful as it is emotionally wrenching. Gillies and Laviolette are two of the strongest performers in the show and they truly transfix when they’re onstage together.
The fighting would likely be scary for very young children, but kids and adults alike with a thirst for adventure will enjoy this show. It’s the perfect holiday outing for the whole family.