Young Vic, London SE1
Opened 6 December, 2000

The Young Vic changes tack for this year's Christmas show, with lots of swashbuckling but uncertain results overall.

In recent years seasonal productions such as Grimm Tales brought both critical acclaim and audiences eager for non-pantomime creativity. This year... well, the kids know the main characters if not the actual story. And they may not really learn the story from Chris Hannan's telling of it; the passages of narrative exposition are there principally to fill in the space between Renny Krupinski's excellent fight sequences. Events bowl along merrily, but we're not always clear why things are happening or how they have happened.

Dick Bird's design replaces the stage with two catwalks crossing in the centre of the space and a further walkway overhead; the action sequences thus take place right amid the audience, which adds to the excitement. But there is little real characterisation to keep us engaged: Phil Rowson's D'Artagnan is a northern accent and no more, the others scarcely even as much. Young audiences tend to make their appreciation audible, but the loudest audience noise I heard at the matinée performance I attended was from a French family behind me who were using the afternoon as a language lesson.

Written for

Copyright © Ian Shuttleworth; all rights reserved.

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