"The truth is often stranger than fiction," and this is never truer than when the inventive and irreverent minds of the Buntport Theater collaborative begin to riff on a few choice facts. In the world premiere of Musketeer these facts revolve around Alexandre Dumas, père, and the creation of his ever popular adventure novel, The Three Musketeers.

As with many great storytellers, Dumas based his work on someone else's less effective but potentially compelling material, in this case The Memoirs of Mister d'Artagnan, which he borrowed from the Castellane Branch of the Marseilles Public Library. The trouble is, Dumas never returned the book.

Over 150 years later, Charlotte, a librarian at Castellane, reads that Dumas is to be disinterred from his local burial monument and tourist attraction, and hand towed to the Pantheon in Paris, where he is to be enshrined with other French luminaries.

Erin Rollman as Charlotte and Evan Weissman as Dumas
Erin Rollman as Charlotte
and Evan Weissman as Dumas
Photo: Buntport Theatre
Erin Rollman inhabits Charlotte as a compulsive-obsessive bureaucratic rules enforcer whose unyielding devotion to the library's policies, and lack of allegiance to the laws of space-time, lead her to a confrontation with the famous author.

Like the proverbial gun on stage that must be used, Dumas' casket is fully pimped out by the irrepressible ensemble, replete with wheels, trap doors, and a fringe-trimmed awning.

All it takes is a little knock on the wooden box to wake up the dead and send us on a mercurial, back-and-forth journey between 2002 (when the body was moved) and 1844 (when The Three Musketeers was published). It's nice to see that after all these years in such a confining cell, Dumas (Evan Weissman) is still in good spirits. We're drawn in by Weissman's jovial manner and urbane wit, which lend Dumas gravity and intelligence; after all, this guy's books have outsold Victor Hugo and Voltaire.

Hannah Duggan as Aramis and Erik Edborg as Althos
Hannah Duggan as Aramis
and Erik Edborg as Althos
Photo: Buntport Theatre
To collect an overdue book fine of €5784 from Dumas, Charlotte must get past his honor guard, three contemporary French citizens, each dressed as one of the Three Musketeers, with a personality suited to his or her assigned role. One of them, Edgard (Erik Edborg), who plays Althos, is Charlotte's former husband.

As prescribed by the novel, Edborg's Athos is an upright, principled, even chivalrous fellow; Hanna Duggan is thoughtful, devout, and serene as Simone, who stands in for Aramis; Brian Colonna is outrageous as the hot-headed, hard-drinking, womanizing Porthos.

Brian Colonna as Porthos
Brian Colonna as Porthos
Photo: Buntport Theatre
As loyal Buntport patrons know, the ensemble's imaginative storylines are only one facet of the creativity that regularly erupts on this stage. The entire story of Musketeer is enacted in front of panels that serve as projection screens—for cinematic scenery, narrative titles, and documentary evidence—and as shadow boxes—for displaying a series of stunning pantomimes and some nifty sleight-of-hand.

Andrew Horwitz's live score seamlessly enhances the action.

Musketeer is an impressive kickoff to the company's eighth year, exhibiting a hard won sophistication born from dedication to their collaborative regime. The genuine hilarity, the poignancy of Dumas' aesthetic argument for his transgression, and the special effects make for a compelling evening.

Buntport Theatre's world premiere of Musketeer runs through September 6th. 303-935-3044.

Bob Bows


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