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Mark Fisher
Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom
Follow me @markffisher and @writeabouttheat I am an Edinburgh-based freelance journalist and critic specialising in theatre and the arts. Publications I write for include the Guardian, Scotland on Sunday and the Scotsman. I am the author of The Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guide: how to make your show a success, published in February 2012 and How to Write About Theatre: A Manual for Critics, Students and Bloggers published in July 2015. From 2000-2003, I was the editor of The List magazine, Glasgow and Edinburgh's arts and events guide. See my website for more information and comprehensive Scottish theatre links.
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Thursday, December 09, 2010

The Three Musketeers and the Princess of Spain, theatre review

The Three Musketeers and the Princess of Spain

Traverse, Edinburgh

If there's a rule to be broken about family-centred theatre, playwright Chris Hannan breaks it. His brilliant version of the Alexandre Dumas stories is rude, anarchic, witty, intelligent, irreligious and coarse – the more so in Dominic Hill's production, designed by Colin Richmond to look like a scene of plague-ridden theatrical dilapidation in sore need of a good revolution.

If you're looking for conventional role models, you won't find one in Beatriz Romilly's Princess of Spain who, although "as posh as a pineapple", is pregnant to an unnamed father. Thrillingly, no one finds this a problem, least of all Alexander Campbell's gloriously effete King of France, who is so smitten with her that he changes the new baby's nappies. And if you're looking for conventional swashbuckling heroes, you won't find them in Porthos, Athos and Aramis. These musketeers are a merciless portrait of masculinity in crisis: obese, drunk and narcissistic.

Throw in an extended farting scene, gags about front bottoms, excrement and womanising, and a vision of the church as a bastion of immorality, and you should find yourself a long way from child-friendly entertainment. This is no show for tots – Rachael Canning's creepy skeletal puppets will see to that – but it is underpinned by such a keen sense of good-versus-bad, and enlivened by so many breathless sword fights and a great live folk-punk score, that it holds the entire audience.

Above all, what we get in Oliver Gomm's D'Artagnan and Cynthia Erivo's Constance is a compelling existential journey towards self-discovery in which the hero strives to breach the two-dimensional constraints of his comic-strip character. When finally he says the word "love", it makes you cry.

Until 24 December. Box office: 0131-228 1404.

© Mark Fisher 2010

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