The clang and flash of swords in Marin

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The Three Musketeers at Marin Shakespeare

All for one, and one for all!

The famous motto echoed through the listening trees surrounding the outdoor theater at Dominican University this past weekend, as the Marin Shakespeare Company opened its delightful version of Alexander Dumas’ swashbuckling adventure, The Three Musketeers.

The play takes us back to seventeenth-century France, where the musketeers, decorated with the fleur-de-lis insignia of the royal house, protect the interests of the King against the nefarious plots of Cardinal Richelieu and his unscrupulous minions. Athos! Porthos! Aramis! And the wannabe musketeers, d’Artagnan and Sabine.

Eh? Sabine?

Yep, having been overlooked by Dumas’ sloppy scholarship and turn-a-blind-eye misogyny, d’Artagnan’s little sister Sabine has been reinstated in feisty glory through the diligent research of playwright Ken Ludwig. When d’Artagnan (Jonah Robinson) takes the letter from his father that will introduce him to Monsieur de Tréville, the Captain of the Musketeers, and sets off for the capital, leaving his beloved Gascony, he takes with him his sister (Anne Norland), who also aspires to join the elite guard of the King. From thereon the story continues pretty much like the original. Except for Sabine’s additions to the plot … her sword fight with Milady and her infatuation with Aramis (Dean Linnard), the tall, handsome and devout musketeer.

Milady (Elena Wright, who played Beatrice in the season opener Much Ado About Nothing) and her evil boss Richelieu (Rod Gnapp) are as wicked and conniving as always, and their heavy Rochefort (Nick Mandracchia) as despicable. D’Artagnan is still blessed with the yellow nag his father gifts him, and Robinson plays him (d’Artagnan, not the nag) with freshness and vaulting bravura. Porthos (Jackson Currier), the fashionable bon vivant, and Athos (Patrick Russell), d’Artagnan’s mentor among the musketeers and the bitter ex of Milady, are a little less well-defined by the script, though played with vitality and verve. Everyone throws their all into the fray.

And a fray it is. Fight scenes are many and stylishly choreographed by fight director Richard Pallaziol. At one point all five musketeers are crossing swords with the Cardinal’s guard, and they truly are much better swordsmen. Pallaziol also plays King Louis XIII, and does a terrific job in this comic portrayal of a rather daffy and good-natured monarch, who we suspect has trouble telling his right arm from his left foot. The Queen (Anna Joham), who foolishly gives the diamond necklace her husband gave her to her lover, the Duke of Buckingham (Ariel Zuckerman), is once again rescued by the musketeers’ loyalty and the speed and daring of d’Artagnan. Thereby providing a cautionary tale for all lovelies who might give their husband’s gifts to potential lovers: Don’t do it, girls.

The other cautionary truism? Don’t hide in convents when your enemy is a woman. Luisa Frasconi plays d’Artagnan’s true love and the Queen’s confidante, Constance Bonacieux.

Robert Currier has directed another delightful and witty production, with set design by Jackson Currier, and costumes by Tammy Berlin. As always, the Forest Meadows Amphitheater provides the wonderful outdoor setting that makes these productions the summer joy they are.

– Jaime Robles 

Photo: Jonah Robinson as D’Artagnan sails above the Forest Meadows Amphitheater.