Fri, 31 May 2019
Picture Mark Dawson
“IT’s like a giant Rubik’s Cube that we have to solve live in front of an audience. ”This is how Nick Bunt from Le Navet Bete describes The Three Musketeers: A Comedy Adventure which the madcap group (whose name translates to The Stupid Turnip) will be bringing to the Corn Exchange from June 12 to 14. Fans of the hilarious West Country troupe will agree that a Rubik’s Cube is a fitting analogy for the colourful and multi-faceted performances that Le Navet Bete are well-known for. Combine all that with clever set design that the actors carry out themselves, along with physical comedy, deliberate errors plus multiple costume changes, and you’ll be excited to see what they’ll do with the Alexandre Dumas classic.
Le Navet Bete comprises four actors – Nick Bunt, Matt Freeman, Al Dunn and Dan Bianchi – plus Alex ‘Wheaty’ Best, the production manager. The fivesome met at the University of Plymouth, on a theatre and performance course 10 years ago, where they realised they had the same comedic taste and love of physical theatre and clowning. They started working together, took a show to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and have toured extensively, building up a loyal fanbase along the way.
Since then, they’ve tackled everything from The Jungle Book to Aladdin to Dick Tracy. Two years ago, they set their sights on Alexandre Dumas’ historical adventure story and their intensive writing process has culminated in this show which recently premiered at the Northcott Theatre in Exeter.
Bunt, who plays Cardinal Richelieu, Aramis and at least seven other parts, is excited to be returning to Newbury.
He said: “We make shows for literally anyone to come and enjoy, from ages four to 104. It’s pure escapism, it’s fun, it’s joyous, always a twinkle in our eyes and a strong connection with the audience. Audiences are why we do this job and we want to make them feel comfortable right from the start. It’s two hours of sheer madness and engaging storytelling.
“We have been coming to Newbury for about five years now with various shows, firstly at New Greenham Arts and now at the Corn Exchange. Over this time, we’ve steadily built up a brilliant loyal fan base who keep coming back for more. The audiences in Newbury are always so up for a laugh and this is why we keep coming back.
“We’ve taken Alexandre Dumas’ classic story – that’s 700 pages of epic adventure – and condensed it into just two hours of high energy, fun and hugely entertaining theatre for absolutely anyone and everyone to enjoy." True to form, swords seem to have been replaced with baguettes, horses with bikes and the four actors play a grand total of 41 characters between them.
Not only are there 50 outfits and 112 costume changes, but the group has decided for the first time that it might be fun to carry out the costume changes on stage, in front of the audience.
“It’s a story that’s been told a thousand times, but we’ve put a fun twist on it, remembering childhood days of playing dress-up in dens and tree-houses. It’s a great way to let the story play out and audiences have been loving it. It's absolutely the most ambitious piece of work we’ve ever made and we cannot wait to share it.”