Whenever the story of "The Three Musketeers" is mentioned, one immediately conjures up images of 'swashbuckling adventure.' That's one thing that Fullerton College's production of the classic Alexandre Dumas tale certainly is, it's fast and fun, even though it doesn't always live up to the 'classic' billing.
But then that's the idea. Director Gary Krinke's emphasis is on making the show accessible to a modem audience while keeping the steady quality of the story's natural intrigue intact. For the most part, Krinke succeeds.
The play begins with its author, Dumas, struggling at the typewriter. This invention actually gives authenticity to the plot as the characters interact with, and often supersede, the writer himself. This lends an aura of having the characters taking over.
D'Artagnan (Pete Shilaimon) then accepts his father's sword and vows to continue the heritage of courage and justice that his father fought for. He arrives in Paris (the setting is a wonderfully made up courtyard of stairways and balconies that render the mood of an actual 19th century castle), and immediately tries to join up with the King's Musketeers but is turned down.
Then, through mishap and chance, D'Artagnan runs across three of the most elite Musketeers (Athos played by Don Carlson, Porthos played by Scott Ruiz, and Aramis played by Matt Freeman), and has minor scuffles with all of them. He must then make appointments to have duels with them on the following day, at nearby times.
So when the three show up simultaneously, followed by Cardinal Richelieu's (John Russel Simard) guards- the Musketeers' villainous foes- a battle ensues and D'Artagnan chooses sides with the Kings' men and fights against the Cardinal's Guards.
After exhibiting his worth in this battle, the Musketeers then welcome D'Artagnan into their circle and together, the four will fight for justice.
The battle scenes are the delight of the show. Superbly crafted and executed, one can't help but sense the excitement of the fight and especially considering the conviction with which the four Musketeers pull them off.
In Act Two, things become a little confusing though. D'Artagnan falls in love with Constance (Jennifer Vukoje), M'Lady de Winter plots against D'Artagnan, Athos dwells on his past, bittered love, and King Louis the XIII (Andy Rose) plans for a royal ball, scheming to recover lost diamonds.
The problem is that there's too much going on in too short a time. A battle scene might be followed by a traditional, balcony romance scene, followed by a dramatic confrontation, and there's not enough smooth transitions. The rhythm is broken and we get the feeling that the actors are hurrying to follow the story.
Don Carlson's Athos is right on target though. As the hardened Musketeer, his portrayal is understated and strong, as if it all comes from inside him.
But as the climax builds, everything gets back on track and some of the confusions are settled so that we are left with a feeling of completion.