Briefly – the story follows our hero d'Artagnan as he leaves his farm and goes to Paris to eventually join up with the the three musketeers. There are plot twists and turns, betrayal, horse riding, corruption, duels and some political commentary.
The Pajama Men version – while fairly faithful to the original – wouldn't have Dumas so much turning in his grave as wetting himself with laughter in it.
I have no idea how many characters are in this performance... let's say 10 to 15 main characters, as well as a horse, a centaur, an eagle, a talking tree, d'Artagnan's dad and a couple out on a date watching the show who have a hissed domestic during the performance. All of these ridiculous characters are played by our two pajama-clad actors, their only props a couple of wooden chairs.
These guys are high-energy freaks who are able to switch from one absurd character to another in an instant with nothing more than a slight but telling physical modification and a change in voice. It's a dizzying spectacle to behold.
It's also a funny spectacle to behold. Very, very funny. The characterisations themselves are funny with some being moderately absurd, while others are cartoonesque absurd. Much fun is had with the cardinal's gargantuan obesity. There are two characters who must talk in code and so talk like two mumbling teenagers because no one listens to them, thus there are even characters within characters. The eagle bore an uncanny likeness a hilarious character from a couple of shows ago, The South American Give-it-to-me bird. The talking tree... well what's funnier than a talking tree? Maybe a talking centaur is funnier than a talking tree. Or the couple that suddenly appear to be watching the show when one decides they don't want to see the violence that is just about to unfold and wants to leave.
Of the violence – let's just say that The Pajama Men's take on the duel isn't the traditional one.
The show barrels along at a feverish pace and it's difficult to tell if the whole thing is scripted or somewhat improvised, given that the performers have an improv background. Quite possibly, it's a little of both. Loosely scripted improv? I don't know.
I also don't know what that weird looking mouth instrument was that their musician played at the intro of the show – weirdest looking thing I've ever seen and totally in keeping with the spirit of the show.
I think I laughed a little bit less at this show than I did at the first show of theirs that I saw a couple of years ago, but I don't think this is because this show is less funny. Indeed, it is every bit as inventive, chaotic and wonderfully silly as their other shows. My newbie wide-eyed astonishment has just been replaced with a kind of awe at what these absurdly talented performers are capable of.
Melbourne International Comedy Festival presents
2 Man 3 Musketeers
Venue: Arts Centre Melbourne
Dates: 26 Mar – 19 Apr, 2015
Tickets: $39 – $29