Review: The Three Musketeers at the Theatre Royal

 

The Three Musketeers is a globally iconic reference that permeates our culture. Whether you have read the 1844 novel by French author Alexandre Dumas, watched the BBC television series, or stumbled upon the story of chaos and conflict in the numerous film adaptations, you have likely encountered it in some capacity. For the first time however, my friends and I experienced the adventurous story through the beautiful spectacle that is the ballet art form, danced by the renowned Northern Ballet.

So, how does this tale of heroism, love, and battle become an elegant series of dances? The answer is…extraordinarily well. As we took our seats, the first thing that became noticeable was the sheer beauty of the room and the sets themselves as they encapsulated the stunning nature that is expected of the French court. Designer Charles Cusick Smith did a brilliant job of portraying the opulence, particularly during the opening of the giant glided golden doors that revealed the intricate detail of the Queen’s boudoir. The level of detail that went into every set used in the different scenes regularly generated a gasp of delight and awe from audience members.

 

 

The ballet was choreographed by David Nixon who created gorgeous routines that left the audience in awe of the athleticism the dancers had. The show incorporated flamboyant comedy from the antics of the cross-dressing King, played by Sean Bates, as well as the hilarious performance by a drunken musketeer Athos. Many dances were incredibly touching, highlighting the vulnerability and depth that is central to this traditional tale of love. I was particularly impressed by the duet performed by Kevin Poeung and Antoinette Brooks-Daw who played the characters d’Artagnan and Constance.  The soft quality to their movements were beautiful, bringing tears to many eyes.

There is little to be critiqued as I noted no moments where the story or dance movements felt jarring or out of sync. As a newbie to the world of ballet, I had high expectations and the Northern Ballet certainly lived up to them. The entire company danced with poise and elegance, ensuring that I will be returning to see them at some point in the future. Having my reservations about understanding the story without dialogue, a common feature in ballet, I needn’t have worried since the dancers clearly portrayed their emotions through their bodies and expressions.

It is worth praising the lighting directors for they did a formidable job. The intensity and hue of the lighting was integral to aid the storyline and demonstrate to the viewers the atmosphere of the scene. Was the lighting dark, for sneaky or menacing moments? Or light for angelic and romantic dances? Similarly, the costumes were impeccably designed elaborately for the final masquerade and the vividly coloured feathers and masks came together at the climax of the performance. Moreover, the shades of red for the evil Cardinal and his agents contrasted against the rich blues of the Musketeers, highlighting the rivalry between the groups.

Overall, The Three Musketeers themselves stood out from other characters through their different yet distinct personalities. Athos acted the stereotypical drunk womanizer, the educated Aramis, and the orderly Porthos. The production as a whole was wonderful for people of all ages and deserves to be commended for creating a unique and beautiful ballet, perfect for an inexperienced ballet audience member such as myself. You definitely won’t regret seeing a performance by these ballerinas, so I definitely recommend the Northern Ballet for anyone remotely intrigued by the dance form.