By Jordan Wright
Synetic Theater’s dancers excel in perceived weightlessness and acrobatic suspension, and in “The Three Musketeers,” their talent is put on display.
The play is full of good, old-fashioned swashbuckling, fight-till-the-death duels and leaping tour-de-force dances performed with a viscerally physical athleticism for which the ensemble is best known. It’s the script that gets in the way of the action, unfortunately.
Playwright brothers Ben and Peter Cunis seem to have conceived the play to serve as a backdrop to the fight scenes. They use dialogue to string the piece together until the next dramatic swordplay. And in “The Three Musketeers,” that’s a good thing: The dialogue is less than riveting, and the scene transitions are occasionally awkward.
If you have enjoyed Alexandre Dumas’ classic, you may recall d’Artagnan, the eager rube from Gascony, who endeavors to join the illustrious musketeers, the king’s personal guard. The “barn boy,” as the men refer to him, is determined to prove his mettle and his love for Constance, the queen’s handmaiden.
Joining the couple are prominent musketeers Athos, Porthos and Aramis, who together serve a cuckolded child king, a beautiful queen and a Machiavellian cardinal. Their unforgettable motto, “All for one and one for all,” becomes a battle cry for “I’ll meet you at dawn,” “I’ll take you out” and “How dare you insult me or my king!”
Dallas Torentino stands out as the eminently likeable d’Artagnan, whose love for Constance — played enchantingly by Brittany O’Grady — is placed in peril when she defends her queen’s cheating heart. As the treacherous Milady, dance diva Irina Tsikurishvili thrills early on in a pas de deux with Athos. Later, amid an ongoing duel, she performs a macabre tango with the evil Cardinal Richelieu.
Notable too are all three musketeers. Hector Reynoso portrays Porthos as a short-tempered, speech-slurring buffoon, while Ben Cunis renders Aramis, the priest wannabe, as a handkerchief-hoarding heartbreaker. Finally, Matthew Ward captures Athos, the musketeer with a dark past.
But it’s Robert Bowen Smith as the petulant, mincing King Louis XIII who sends it over the top.
Set to an olio of bal-musette, a dash of Mendelssohn’s “Wedding March” and a soupçon of exhilarating orchestral pieces, the play is a departure from Synetic’s Silent Shakespeare Series but keeps to the troupe’s same riveting dance-centric tradition.
“The Three Musketeers” runs through June 9 at Synetic Theater, 1800 S. Bell St., Arlington. For tickets and information, call 1-800-494-8497 or visit www.synetictheater.org.