Three Musketeers | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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Three Musketeers

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Three Musketeers, Emanon Theater Company, at the Mayer Kaplan Jewish Community Center. Like the bookish pranksters of the Reduced Shakespeare Company, Emanon places literature on the operating table and gleefully shreds it with scalpels. Their latest adaptation replaces page after page of Alexandre Dumas' dialogue with gratuitous stage combat and Monty Python-style humor.

When 14 actors play 58 roles, just following the skeletal story line takes a monumental effort. But since each scene focuses on a sword fight, an ambush, or a barroom brawl, the plot doesn't matter much. It has something to do with D'Artagnan, a wide-eyed hayseed from Gascony, uniting with Porthos, Athos, and Aramis, three of France's finest--and most inebriated--musketeers, to clash repeatedly with the diabolical Cardinal Richelieu.

Thanks to some extremely physical, tongue-in-cheek performances, even the most puerile gags--like kicks in the crotch--are pretty lively. One inspired bit has Athos hobbled by a new injury each time he enters. The play, developed through improv, is far from flawless, but it's refreshing to see a troupe take being frivolous so seriously. --Nick Green

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