We Love Arts: The Three Musketeers

Peter Pereyra as Rochefort and Dallas Tolentino as D'Artagnan / courtesy Johnny Shryock

Peter Pereyra as Rochefort and Dallas Tolentino as D’Artagnan / courtesy Johnny Shryock

When Synetic Theater announces a show like The Three Musketeers, you know you’re either in for a treat or a major lawsuit. After all, the only choreography more daring than the usual attempts by Synetic would be Synetic + swords.

But no lawsuits necessary (at time of publication). The Three Musketeers is thrilling; and the cast has trained in sword-fighting to make sure you get a great show without any hospitalization.

Adapted from Alexandre Dumas’ beloved novel, The Three Musketeers tells of young D’Artagnan, who arrives in 17th century Paris to join the king’s guard: the famous Musketeers. He finds in their place a group of drunk womanizers who dream of battle but won’t regain glory when they can’t even stand up straight.

The story’s duels and seductions are perfectly suited for Synetic’s unique style of theater. From the dazzling opening fight onward, Synetic’s Paata and Irina Tsikurishvili and playwrights Ben and Peter Cunis have created a brash world of high hopes and higher stakes, with action that doesn’t let up until curtain.

The choreography requires significant endurance and training, to which this company says “yay” and never “nay.” The show is a swashbuckling spectacle – a big adventure performed with the artistry of a ballet.

Where the Synetic adaptation is heavy on bravado it’s light on story. This version doesn’t dive deeply into the themes of Dumas’ heavy novel. It doesn’t attempt to. It unfolds the plot quickly and spends the rest on movement – mostly swordfighting. Men fight men; men fight women; women fight clergy. It doesn’t always make sense, but it always looks incredible.

That the battle sequences often upstage the story might wear out some theatergoers; but those willing to suspend disbelief for the sake of Irina Tsikurishvili’s excellent choreography will be content to enjoy the theatrics.

The ensemble of Musketeers, played by Ben Cunis, Matthew Ward, and Hector Reynoso, are a delight. While very funny individuals on their own, they also work well together as a team and seem contagiously fond of each other when relating on stage. In the role of D’Artagnan, Dallas Tolentino inhabits the youthful energy and innocence needed to knock his three idols back up on their feet.

As King Louis XIII, Robert Bowen Smith steals his scenes. Folly bursts from his clipped and anxious movements to prove how well the Synetic style can work to create character through motion.

Though the production gives itself over wholeheartedly to the choreography, The Three Musketeers does have a certain message peeking through. This larger-than-life adventure is in some ways quite cynical, as it explores how the action in our lives changes us for better and for worse. Our hero finds, as many of us do, that politics and religion can complicate even the best laid utopian plans.

By all means, don’t let those sad real world truths keep you away, though: it’s mostly attractive, talented people working out their problems with swords.

Synetic Theater‘s production of The Three Musketeers performs through June 9th. Located at 1800 S. Bell Street, Arlington, VA 22202. Closest Metro stop: Crystal City (Yellow/Blue lines). For more information call 800-494-8497.

Joanna moved to DC in 2010 knowing she’d love it, and as usual she was right. She enjoys eating fried things, drinking scotch and smoking cigars, and makes up for the damage done by snacking on organic oats and barley and walking long distances to wherever with her dog Henry. Joanna now lives with her husband and said dog in Los Angeles, and they all miss DC terribly. Follow her on Twitter or contact her at joannacastlemiller.com.

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