“If anyone was going to attempt The Three Musketeers as a two-hander, it would be the daring Morgan and West. Instead, much to their cardiologists’ relief, they’ve added the masterful Peter Clifford to their crew.”
Charles de Batz de Castelmore (c.1611-1673) was born at the Château de Castelmore near Lupiac in south-western France the son of a recently ennobled merchant and his wife, Françoise de Montesquiou d’Artagnan. He went to Paris in the 1630s, travelling under his mother’s name, and joined the Musketeers. The rest, as they say, is history. The biography of d’Artagnan – Louis XIV’s captain of le Mousquetaires de la maison militaire du roi de France – has been (somewhat) embellished down the years, first by Gatien de Courtilz de Sandras and then, most famously and fabulously, by Alexandre Dumas. Now d’Artagnan and The Three Musketeers are getting the Morgan and West treatment. We expect clever silliness. We expect sparkling banter. We expect some things to be perfect and other things to go hopelessly, hilariously wrong. We are not disappointed.
One of my final memories of EdFringe ‘19 – back when the world was young and undercooked bat with a side of pangolin sashimi was still on the menu – is of encountering Messrs Morgan and West in George Square. They were having a spectacular run with their riotously brilliant ‘Unbelievable Science’, a show so critically acclaimed I awarded it this publication’s ONLY 7-star review. Onstage they were performing at the speed of light. Offstage, and rushing between gigs, they were, to put it mildly, utterly cream-crackered – a pair of properly wobbly-legged long-distance runners gasping towards the finish line. Seeing them manfully struggle in that oh-so-rare Edinburgh sunshine, it was clear as day that these two are probably the hardest-working all-rounders in the league.
If anyone was going to attempt The Three Musketeers as a two-hander, it would be the daring Morgan and West. Instead, much to their cardiologists’ relief, they’ve added the masterful Peter Clifford to their crew. Clifford identifies as an achhhhhtooooooor, with one of those deep and meaningful voices reserved for Penny Mordant’s campaign videos (that reference will age well). He certainly adds gravity, but no dead weight, to the ensemble. His comic timing, physicality, and sheer bloody hard work add an exciting new depth and diversity to the much-loved Morgan and West experience.
Alexandre Dumas was first and foremost a storyteller, the first to buckle his swash for a mass and enduring readership. So, have Morgan and West managed to distil the Frenchman’s Eau de awesomeness in a form that will pass muster for an audience of eager young culture vultures in the 2020s? Daughter 1.0 (7yrs) wrote the following in a letter telling her Grandmother about the show,
“Dear Granny, I went to the Bedfod festival fringe! Let me tell you about the tree muscatias. There was a farm boy who had a cow as a friend. And he wanted to become a Muscatia. There was bunting to show the danger zone. They took fighting very seriosly. They used flags to show where they were. For egsample, they turned one to show it was the port and another to show the cathedral where the cardinal lived, or the city. The story took place in France. There was a evil person who wanted some diamonds so he coald be very power-ful. The queen realy needed them. They triked him and gave him dimons made of ice. The farm boy had a fight with Mr Cheese wich made me laugh and laugh! it was not the country it was a city called paris. I loved it so much! lots of love xxx”
For me, the show could have been 10-20 minutes shorter and a wee bit pacier. Still, it’s safe to bet that Morgan and West (and Clifford too) have got yet another sensational hit on their hands. This is a production that will delight little kids new to the story as well as those of us who have known since the ‘80s that Dogtanian and the Muskehounds are always ready. Un pour tous, tous pour un!
Reviewer: Dan Lentell