Friday, May 20, 2016

Play Review: Man in the Iron Mask

Image found here.
I enjoy going to plays at the Synetic Theater; they always put their own twist on things (usually in a dark way), and the focus on movement is really unique. The latest show I saw there was The Man in the Iron Mask, which I knew nothing about except what I learned from the Leonardo DiCaprio movie.
The whole show revolves around this building on set, which turned to show the exterior or interior of the building.
In general, I thought the play was pretty similar to the movie as far as plot goes. Essentially there are four musketeers (yes, four, not three) who all used to be friends and are now reunited for this adventure. What's their mission? To kidnap a masked prisoner whom they suspect is the twin brother of King Louis. France is a mess, and no one likes the self-centered king, so they want to replace him with his identical brother, Phillippe. So the story is all about capturing Phillippe, trying to train him to act like King Louis, and then disposing of the king himself to make their plan work.

My favorite parts of the play were the dance/fight sequences and the comedic relief. There were dances both at the palace and in the tavern. The latter felt a bit like a scene from another DiCaprio movie, Titanic. Like this:

Some of the fight scenes were a little silly, like the bar brawl, but I especially liked the battle scene at the Barbary Coast. To balance out the great movement, there was also fun dialogue. The prison guards and Colbert, King Louis' "butler," were very funny (Nathan Weinberger, who played Colbert, reminded me of Toby Jones and his character from the film Ever After.).

I liked how the musketeers moved to pretend they were riding horses.
I thought Alex Mills did a great job playing both King Louis and Phillippe, and all of the musketeers were very good (Ben Cunis, Ryan Sellers, Nicklas Aliff [the funny one], and Shu-nan Chu). I was very impressed by the acting and thought they all were awesome!

Alex Mills played both a pompous King Louis and an innocent Phillippe.
While watching, I couldn't help but notice some differences between the play and the film. I should note that both the movie and the play are based on the novel by Alexandre Dumas, which I have not read. So I can't say which is "right," but these are the things I noted. For one, the love interest of King Louis is named Louise in the play, but Christine in the movie. The movie also doesn't mention Constance, who in the play is a woman that D'artagnan loved (In the movie, D'artagnan is in love with the queen.). The play also says that King Louis beat the masked prisoner every Sunday, while I don't believe this was the case in the film; King Louis attacks his mother with the mask in the play, but that never happens in the movie. I know it is unfair to compare the two, since they are both different works of art. But when I know the movie so well (it's one of my favorites), I couldn't help but see these differences!

AND full disclosure: I slept through most of the second act. It seemed like mostly dancing and fighting, which I felt I had seen enough of anyway. Also, I'm simply not a night owl, and sitting in a dark, cold room at nighttime in an uncomfortable seat makes me want to go to sleep. When you're asleep, you forget  your discomfort and the fact that you very well may have hypothermia because the theater is so cold. I much prefer their shorter plays that don't have intermissions!

The play runs until June 19, so there's still time to see it if you'd like. Click below for a video preview:

Here are my reviews of the other plays I have seen at Synetic:

A Midsummer Night's Dream

The Picture of Dorian Gray

Alice in Wonderland

Romeo and Juliet

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