REVIEW OF DON QUIXOTE
By Peter Anderson and Colin Heath
Directed by Lesley Schisgall Currier
For tickets / schedule :
Forest Meadows Amphitheatre, Dominican University of California
RUN: July 31 – August 30, 2015
RATING: 5 of 5 stars
(August 7, 2015)
Every person has a unique vision, colored by societal expectations and their own experiences and beliefs. After an argument, both sides can be convinced of their innocence in the affair, clinging to a specific view of the incident. Clashes of perception are a daily occurrence; Don Quixote magnifies them into dramatic facets. Whether rendered into comedic gold, such as the sequence of sheep seen as an invading army, turned into an audience interactive pillow fight, or tragic, as Don Quixote realizes he is being maliciously deceived, the story demonstrates how differently we see the world from each other. Sometimes it is accidental, a part of the way we think, other times we choose our perspective deliberately for good or ill.
Peter Anderson and Colin Heath faced a daunting task of adapting the two volume Don Quixote, an often rambling affair, unlike the linear novel form we are familiar with today. Characters are combined, to give the story a cohesive feel, and similar scenes put into one, such as the Knight of the Mirrors and Knight of the White Moon. With a longer play form, more from the original work is included than other adaptations. The self critique of Book Two is a fascinating precursor to post-modern works, augmenting the motif of literature which occurs throughout the play.
This production is not meant to be heady philosophy; it is primarily a bawdy comedy with undercurrents of deeper considerations that bleed through in quieter moments. The direction by Lesley Schisgall Currier is nothing short of brilliant, and the acting quality is the highest I have seen at Marin Shakespeare. fight director Richard Pallaziol and Lesley Schisgall Currier’s creative use of props, particularly during the inn and windmill scenes, was a joy to watch.
Ron Campbell as Don Quixote is absolute perfection. His physical comedy is flawlessly timed; from the moment he walked on stage I was awed by how entirely he became the character. It is worth seeing this production simply for his performance. Equally inspiring is his sidekick John R. Lewis as Sancho Panza, and the remaining cast who performed all other roles with impressive range and a variety of amusing wigs.
Since the setting is Spain, the play integrates nods to dance through use of palmas and taconeo, augmented with haunting guitar music. I caught a whiff of De Falla during intermission.
The play incorporates coarse physical comedy and a modern obsession with profanity that I do not quite see the need for; I would not recommend it to a younger audience as a result, and you need to be prepared for it if you plan on attending with someone of delicate sensibilities.
Marin Shakespeare’s Don Quixote is a captivating premiere with incomparable acting, jovial comedy, and an underlying depth of thought that is relevant to modern society. We still blame fiction for actions, such as video games for violence, and stalwartly refuse to see things from other points of view. Whether you are intrigued by philosophy or want a rollicking good time, Don Quixote is the play to see.