Wednesday, September 24, 2008

"Don Juan" - September 2008

Much like its central character, the Citizens Theatre Company's "Don Juan" is visually impressive, opulently dressed, full of energy and charisma - and somewhat lacking in heart and soul. But the conceit of transporting present day PR guru John D back in time to become the legendary Don Juan ("Life On Mars" style) while juxtaposing language and imagery from the two periods makes for some thrilling moments of theatre.

Mark Springer is certainly charismatic enough as John D/Don Juan - particularly when breaking the fourth wall to address the audience. But he has so little actual stage time with Neve McIntosh's Donna Anna that it's difficult to see what exactly he offers her other than an alternative to her arranged marriage, and even harder to see why she appears to captivate him so readily. There's little to justify his apparent conversion to the path of true love.

The real stars of the evening are the comic duo of countryfolk Elisa and Carino who are played to perfection by Elspeth Brodie and Ross F Sutherland - although all the cast fully contribute to the production playing counterparts in both timeframes.

But the production definitely divided the audience on the night we attended and seemed to provoke a love/hate response. Part of that may well have been down to some failing to buy into the central conceit but I suspect it was also a divide between those willing be won over by appearance and those who require more depth. Waldorf was certainly less taken with it than I was.

High production values are clearly on display here and it definitely pays off with Jason Southgate's set design aided by some fabulous lighting by Stuart Jenkins (the Citz Blog has a nice display of images from the show). This is a striking visual feast of a production that thoroughly entertains but it may very quickly leave you wanting something more fulfilling.

Don Juan runs at the Citizens until Saturday 11th October
Image by Eamonn McGoldrick used with permission