Alexandre Dumas would probably have been the first to applaud Barbershopera’s blisteringly funny skit on his classic tale of derring-do, The Three Musketeers.
The company brought its unique take on the story to Aylesbury’s Waterside Theatre for two nights this week and my jaw is still aching from laughter three days after I enjoyed the show.
The whole thing is delightfully potty, glorious a cappella singing mixed with Monty Python-style silliness from four talented and versatile performers.
The production bore all the hallmarks of Edinburgh Fringe with a debt paid, I’m guessing, to university drama clubs.
It was called The Three Musketeers but it bore only a passing resemblance to the original adventure yarn. Here was a story about a beleaguered village calling on the skills of Athos, Aramis and Porthos in breaking the English blockade of, wait for it, jam roly poly (told you that it was silly).
At the same time the feckless King of France has given away his royal plums to his English fancy, the outrageous Duke of Buckingham (the splendid Russell Walker brilliantly aping David Walliams’ Laydee).
The evil Cardinal Richtea hopes the scandal will bring about the King’s downfall. It’s up to The Musketeers, aided by a suspiciously feminine looking D’Artagnan (that’s Nicole D’Artagnan, emissary from a village that boasts just 23 people, four goats and a budgie).
The singing, by Walker, Pete Sorel-Cameron, the wide ranging Harry Stone, and, making her Barbershopera debut, Laura Darton, is inspired, inventive and full of mischief. Unrequited By The World and I’m the Duke of Buckingham showcased Walker’s effortless talent for comedy (he’s off to Wicked and the West End after the tour).
Barbershopera will never fill vast auditoriums, unless, perhaps they are during a nationwide tour of university campuses, because they are very much a niche act but, it has to be said, one of the very best of the quirky, outside-the-mainstream theatrical entertainments currently doing the rounds.
I haven’t laughed so much in ages. I think, at one point, I was even crying with merriment. Come back soon.