Max Berry, Contributing Critic - New York City
New York, NY - Opting to replace the 1600s with Nazi-occupied France in 1941, this retelling of the classic story feels easier to grasp but just as frightening. There is a great deal of distance from 2019 to the 1600s but the distance from today and World War II is less than a hundred years, and therefore the audience is able to connect much more with the terrifying mission the musketeers must carry out.
Written by Megan Monaghan Rivas and directed by Michole Biancosino and Andrew William Smith, “Three Musketeers 1941” Tells the story of a group of women in France during World War II and Nazi occupation who, led by their teacher, fight for the freedom of French citizens and to restore France to what it was before the Nazis took over. At the start of the play the women must rescue a British spy and send him off to safety. Of course, this sets off a whole chain of events and here we have our play.
Rivas’s script was both epic and simplistic in scale. The mission of the musketeers is certainly complex and requires many locations and the environment they are in certainly is full of complicated and troubling history. This could have very easily become a big political epic using the story of the three musketeers. But it’s not that. Despite being full of strategy, history, and politics, “Three Musketeers 1941” feels very focused and personal. We are seeing these women fight to survive, fight for their country, and fight for freedom. We feel the weight of what they’re fighting for on a deep personal level because the play doesn’t try to tell every story, just theirs. But their story, in a way, is many people’s stories.
The main group of musketeers work off of each other spectacularly. Each providing their own original voice while working together as a cohesive ensemble. It is truly all for one and one for all. Other standout include Zack Calhoon and Javan Nelson as the Nazi soldiers. Both Calhoon and Javan give sinister performances, truly portraying the horrifying nature of these individuals. The set design by Chen –Wei Liao is also very well done. I was particularly impressed and startled by the way the backdrop of chains were used throughout the show, acting as both a divide from the private and the public and literal chains of a holding cell.
“Three Musketeers 1941” was an exhilarating theatrical experience that brought classic characters into a more relevant time period without making them feel too modernized. It unflinchingly portrays the World War II era and gives us characters we can no doubt relate to as well as hope for.
“Three Musketeers 194” was written by Megan Monaghan Rivas and directed by Michole Biancosino and Andrew William Smith.
It features: Christina Liang, Ashley Bufkin, Essence Stiggers, Kate Margalite, Ella Dershowitz, Joleen Wilkinson, Helen Farmer, Zack Calhoon, Javan Nelson, and Valentino Musumeci.
With set design by Chen-Wei Liao.
Lighting Design by Hallie Zieselman
Sound design by Yiran Zhang
And costume design by Olivia Hern
It runs June 21st, 25th, 27th, 28th, and 29th at 7:30 at A.R.T/ New York Theatres (502 West 53rd st, New York, NY 10019)
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