Move over the BBC, there are some new musketeers in town. Two drama companies, Nightshade Productions and ReStage, have teamed up to bring The Three Musketeers onto the streets of York this summer.
The Alexandre Dumas classic is having something of a moment. BBC One drama The Musketeers, season one of which ended in February, has been recommissioned even after Peter Capaldi’s defection to Doctor Who.
That was more of a success than the 2011 Disney-fied blockbuster flop The Three Musketeers, complete with airships and Milla Jovovich.
Casting for the York street theatre production proved popular and now directors Damian Freddi and Chris Green have found their leads.
Richard Bevan plays all round grumpy drunk Athos, Ben Sawyer is ladies man Aramis, James Witchwood plays strong-man Porthos and James Johnson is the naive, but talented D’Artagnan.
Out and about
So what’s the plan for this local epic? Well, this production will be touring the streets of York and then some…
The producers have something of a track record for arresting street drama.
The Three Musketeers won’t be your normal open-air play, however. It aims to be a new kind of “immersive theatre” where the audience can interact with the play in a more physical way.
As part of this, head of ReStage Chris Green plans to distribute 17th century France-style newspapers throughout the crowd.
Chris cites his inspiration as London-based theatre group Punch Drunk. In their production of Macbeth, for example, viewers moved through the story at their own pace over a period of three hours, as a cast of 26 actors staged the play in the space of three disused warehouses.
Chris expresses his desire to create an experience that will not be the same for any one person, and that will be different every time.
As well as the stunning backdrop of York itself, director Damian Freddi said that they will possibly use some painted sets in the style of Terry Gilliam‘s films.
The play will last for approximately two and a half hours with an interval included and runs from July 23 to August 10, 2014.
Here are some of the locations they are planning to use and the scenes to go along with them:
First stop: St Crux Parish Hall on Whip Ma Whop Ma Gate, supported by vignettes from the chorus.
This will be followed by a dash through Shambles to Newgate Market where the first sword fight will take place.
Around this area young D’Artagnan will be introduced with the market serving as his Gascony farm.
On to King’s Court which doubles up as Captain Treville’s office. The stealing of an apple sparks a war between merchant families, and a race is suggested – a nod to the spectacular Grand Départ.
A swift chase down Colliergate as D’Artagnan’s attempts to track down Cardinal Richelieu sparks the introduction of our heroes.
The Central Methodist Church on St Saviourgate acts as Athos’s mansion. Then Porthos heads to the nearby DIG. Here he finds Aramis, romancing a lady friend. Typically, a duel breaks out.
Back at St Saviourgate Chapel we meet Richelieu himself, and the king and queen. At a “garden party” two scenes are happening simultaneously: Richelieu and the king discuss the art of war and Constance Bonacieux is introduced.
Next we stop by the Tax Office and the mysterious Milady materialises, taking on some brigands with some help from D’Artagnan. Our merry band make their way down a snickleway to St Andrew’s Church on Spen Lane and an abundance of duels break out.
At Bedern Hall Buckingham is introduced following Constance, and the action moves to the Minster.
After more sword fighting around the Roman column a plot to kill the queen is hatched and the Musketeers have to “cross the channel” to save her.
St Michael le Belfrey serves as Buckingham’s Palace, then we dash off through Stonegate to another party scene in St Helen’s Square.
Finally we travel down Coney Street to Holy Trinity Church in St Sampson’s Square, doubling as the Bastille.
Constance gets captured and interrogated by Milady and finally it’s all back to King’s Square for the final scene.