The Hudson Warehouse theater company is doing their amazing annual thing: free performances in Riverside Park all summer long. Two years ago we saw their She Stoops to Conquer; today we saw an original production of The Three Musketeers.
Some details of the plot have been excised, and perhaps slightly altered, but the main points and favorite scenes are all there, in full swashbuckling glory. The script is interesting, mixing archaic English (and a light sprinkling of French) with modern colloquialisms and the occasional anachronistic cultural reference. One character, ostensibly listing the desirable traits for a Musketeer, actually recites the (American) Boy Scout Motto.
Mostly, though, the play is an excuse for sword fights. We showed up an hour early to claim front row seats, and watched the final rehearsals of every fight, first slow, then full-speed. Some sequences (like a match between a rapier and a beer stein) took several rounds to polish, but in the performance somehow everything worked.
The actors were unamplified, performing in the open air, in a space not designed for acoustics. It’s a quiet park by New York City standards, but still a tremendous challenge to project to the back of the house. The actors more or less yelled their lines, which sounded natural in some voices and strained in others. Amplification might have helped, but seeing as the actors performed straight through a light shower, I can see why they avoided it.
All in all, I’m definitely a fan of Hudson Warehouse. They don’t take themselves too seriously, and neither did these authors and playwrights.