Review: The Three Musketeers

The Three Musketeers, 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday; $15-$25. Davis Shakespeare Festival at Davis Veterans Memorial Theatre, 203 E. 14th Street in Davis; (530) 802-0998; Through August 6.
Rated 4.0

Sisterhood is powerful in Davis Shakespeare Festival’s The Three Musketeers. American playwright Ken Ludwig amps up the girl power by giving D’Artagnan a plucky sister named Sabine—as fearless and skillful with a sword as any guy.

In this production, sisters Gia and Gabby Batista play opposites in leading roles, with Gabby as the good-hearted Sabine, and Gia as the dark femme fatale Milady.

The two duel in a memorable scene—of course, because this is very much a summer action-comedy. The frequent swordplay (something like 20 fights, deftly choreographed by Sydney Schwindt) is basically bloodless, with many miraculous escapes. The characters are sketched in broad, humorous terms. Cardinal Richelieu (Kevin Caravalho) is a sardonic villain straight out of a comic book, while King Louis (Paj Crank) is a dimwitted royal.

D’Artagnan (Brian Bohlender, who recently appeared in the Sacramento Theatre Company’s production of The Donner Party) is a buff boy toy with a winning smile. The Three Musketeers (Ian Hopps, Dylan Michael Collins, Zachary Scovel) are more mature matinee idols, all derring-do and dapper manners. Hopps (fresh from Capital Stage’s Stupid Fucking Bird) is particularly good.

The action is propelled by live music (guitar, flute, percussion), with delightful semiperiod/semimodern costumes (Caitlin Cisek) as eye candy.

Shakespeare it ain’t, but this rendition of The Three Musketeers is so fast, funny, spirited and theatrical that you won’t really mind.