The Man in the Iron Mask

by Alexandre Dumas and adapted by Alison Munro

directed by Brian Stansbridge

The show played to full houses throughout the run and was enthusiastically enjoyed by all who saw it in the Open Air at

Mottisfont Abbey

on

Wednesday 13th to Saturday 23rd July 2005

Ramblings from the Director:

The Maskers first flirtation with Alexandre Dumas' wonderful, outrageous, swashbuckling characters was in 1996, when Fran Morley directed The Three Musketeers.  Ever since then I have often toyed with the idea of presenting our Mottisfont audience with another musketeers' story and now we are.  The links with the earlier production should probably be briefly made. Fran's husband, Ian, plays Aramis in this production, I played Aramis in the earlier show and Johnny Carrington was cast as D'Artagnan in both.  How's that for continuity!

When I set about finding a dramatisation of Dumas' novel I approached my PC, fingers poised and tapped in a 'Google search' and immediately struck gold - apparently.  I found a play called The Man in The Iron Mask by Alexandre Dumas,  Narcisse Fournier, and Auguste Arnould.  I proceeded to download an electronic copy of the script for $4.50 (a bargain) and set about reading it.  About twelve pages in I began to suspect that something was wrong.  When would D'Artagnan make his appearance or indeed Athos, Porthos or the Bishop of Varennes (Aramis)?  They never did.  What is more, the play ended with the tragic death of the prisoner and there were virtually no sword fights.  No use at all for Mottisont.  A little more investigation and I discovered that Fournier and Arnould had written the play with no involvement from Dumas, but persuaded him to lend his more famous name to boost the chances of success.

Returning to the internet, I found the website of another theatre group, The Company, in Sheffield, who had performed the piece in 1999.  I emailed them and was put in touch with Alison Monro, who had adapted Dumas' story.  She sent me the script and we were off.

Here are Alison's own words on the script:

'Readers of Dumas will soon realise that the title of the play is the same as his book. Some of the characters have the same names. The basic idea is the same. That's about it, though. Dumas killed Constance off at the end of The Three Musketeers and had D'Artagnan embark on an affair with Queen Anne. In this play, Constance is alive and well and as lethally clumsy as ever. There is a criminal shortage of good parts for women in period drama, and I was not about to pass up on Constanced over a mere trifle such as her death in a previous episode. If it bothers you, imagine that Milady only strangled her to the point of unconsciousness, all right? Students of 17th century French history will discover an equal discrepancy between my script and real life. In the latter, Louise de la Valliere was the devoted mistress of Louis XIV and the true love of his life, and the Edict of Nantes was not revoked until 1685. As a history teacher I really ought to know better, but I have never allowed facts to get in the way of a good story.'

I am with Alison all the way and I hope you enjoy this irrevernt romp.

Brian Stansbridge

Cast
Planchet Ken Hann
Mme. Planchet Hazel Burrows
King Louis/Philippe Matt Avery
Anne (Queen Mother) Avril Woodward
Queen Maria Sarah Russell
Constance Sarah Roach
D'Artagnan Johnny Carrington
Porthos John Souter
Athos Albie Minns
Aramis Ian Morley
Louise de la Valliere Rachael Courage
Colbert Harry Tuffill
Reynard Rob Praine
Percerin Paul Baker
Lebrun Richard Hackett
Assistant Tailors Joanna Iacovou, Alex Austin
Flunky Bruce Atkinson
Footman Johnny Hearn
Maids Chris Baker, Meri Mackney, Angie Stansbridge
Guards Andy Dennis, Adam Dyche, Johnny Hearn,
Andrea Joyeusaz, Phil Nottingham, Adam Taussik
Jailer Andrea Joyeusaz
Housekeeper Lyn Austin
Tutor Tony Austin
Arlette Hannah Price
Tavern Guests & Bar Guests Lyn Austin, Tony Austin, Alex Austin
Tavern Boy Daniel Mackney, Anna Carrington


 

For the Maskers
Director Brian Stansbridge
Production Manager Chris Baker
Stage Manager Angie Barks
Technical Director Tony Lawther
Set Design Peter Liddiard
Wardrobe Serena Brown, Kay Hann, Nina Jensen, Ross Liddiard, Fran Morley
Set Construction Peter Liddiard, Roger Lockett, Graham Buchanan, David Jupp
Lighting Clive Weeks, Nathan Weeks
Sound Recording Geoff Grandy, Lawrie Gee, Steve Moulster
Original Music Chris Hann
Fight Arranger Paul Benzing
Properties Ella Lockett, Gill Buchanan, Alison Tebbutt
King's Portrait Olivia Keith
Iron Mask Fiona Bartlett
Ball Masks Sarah Russell, Jackie Foyle
Firearms John Hamon
Special Effects Phil Moody
Staging PRESTECH
Wigs Showbiz, Southampton
Backstage Nick Browne, Ralph Bateman, Adrian Davis, David Fancett, Colin Maltby
Publicity Design John Hamon
Programme Brian and Angie Stansbridge
Photography Clive Weeks
Signage Ken Spencer
Front of House Julia Jupp, Pam & Geoff Cook and teams
Box Office Turner Sims Concert Hall, National Trust supported by Emma Carrington, Sheana Carrington, Pam Cook and teams at Mottisfont

 

The Southampton Daily Echo wrote:

Dashing D'Artagnan (Johnny Carrington), love-struck Athos (Albie Minns), impoverished Porthos (scene-stealing John Souter) and Christopher Lee lookalike Aramis (elegant Ian Morley) thwart the plans of the king and his dastardly henchman Reynard (pantomime baddy Rob Praine), successfully putting the right brother on the throne of 18th century France.

Fine costumes, frenzied swordplay and deafening pyrotechnics all contributed to a dramatic evening's entertainment, which was enjoyed to the full by the picnicking audience.

Edward Hounson, Saturday 23rd July 2005

 

 

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Established 1968

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