Adaptations keep popping up of The Three Musketeers. Good for me and my book. The timeless story of d'Artagnan, Athos, Porthos and Aramis appeals to new fans because it's a great escape. Few activities sound as fun as galloping around the French countryside with a sword and a bottle of wine. Hey, I might try it myself some day.
A Musketeers play is making the rounds in the U.S. It's showing this month near my former home of Asheville, NC, at the Flat Rock Playhouse, but I've seen it reviewed and advertised at other venues around the country. I hope to see it someday. Written by playwright Ken Ludwig, it premiered in 2006 in the UK to wonderful reviews. The Bristol Old Vic theatre in England commissioned him to write it.
The Brits (hug one if you know one) have also finished production of a 10-episode TV series called The Musketeers. It will be released next year by BBC One and BBC America. I'm more of a movie fan rather than a TV watcher, but this series has me thrilled. It's a drama (yeah!) versus a new comic barbershop opera making the rounds in the UK. A comedy troupe called Barbershopera teasingly sings through the Dumas story. There's plenty to joke about and Dumas would have enjoyed the troupe's sense of humour.
Alexandre Dumas's work is also inspiring a Canadian to adapt the novel into a play for young actors. She found me online recently and asked if I could answer some questions about the book, and I gladly opined. Her questions were very specific, so I had to think through them based on the novel's version of events and what I know of history. Below is our exchange.
Q: I've read the novel, another play adaptation, and the graphic novel (how great is that?!), but there are a few motivations that I don't understand. I'm hoping if you have the time you could share any insights that you might have with me. 1) Why does Richelieu want to expose the affair between the Queen and the Duke? Does he hope it will start a war?
A: While I don't profess to be an expert, I can give you my take on your questions. Why expose the affair? Political reasons, at least in terms of Dumas's rendition of history. Dumas doesn't get much more specific than that. Richelieu was a power-player and wanted to influence France's fortunes for personal gain. If he could gain the upper hand, he won. Plus, Queen Anne wasn't French. Probably in reality, this friction between them didn't exist. (I've looked into this last point more, and accounts of the relationship between Richeleau and the Queen are less dastardly than the plot Dumas wrote.)
Q: 2) Why does Richelieu want to start a war with England?
A: The English were Protestants and at the time, the French Catholics were struggling to define their relationship to the Huguenots, the French Protestants, a group which France tried to suppress (ie: the Seige at La Rochelle). In truth, Richelieu created peace with the Huguenots.
Q: 3) Why is Buckingham not safe in France when he sneaks over to visit the Queen?
A: Because Buckingham is English and Dumas portrays the French as disdainful of the English (probably not far from the truth). And as everyone rightly suspects, because Buckingham's having, or trying to have, an affair with Queen Anne. Ah, the struggle for love.
This was a fun exercise for me, but I'm far from being a historian. I'm simply a super Dumas fan. If a historian of European history or literature happens to know more, I'd love to hear from you.