Sunday, 11 June 2017

‘Don Juan in Soho’ – Wyndham’s Theatre – Saturday 3rd and Wednesday 7th June 2017

(Rated 5/5 ) 

It had to happen – DT as DJ – David Tennant as Don Juan ;) - a totally charming man playing a despicable seduction-crazed rogue – and his adorable long-suffering servant / companion / sidekick Stan - played delightfully by Adrian Scarborough – does warn us not to be charmed by him. And yet we completely are, whilst maybe feeling a little discomfort that we are watching the deplorable yet hilarious almost sexual exploitation – though as he says ‘I am not a pussy grabber’ – of many women, and a few men. DJ is eminently ‘fuckable’ yet ‘unhaveable’ and he celebrates that. He cares not a jot for anybody, being totally untouched by the pain he is causing his new wife Elvira – Danielle Vitalis.
Don Juan has appeared many times over in Operas, poems, plays, philosophical writings and other and there are lovely refs to Don Giovanni in this production. Yet this is a very deliberately contemporary version – ever so much a version for our times making multitudes of references to our experiences of today. In fact so much so that DJ’s rant speech in Act 2 was changed through the run to reflect current events – more on that later but for example including ‘climate change denial by an orange orangutan’ (actually an offence to orangutans ;)). I wish I’d seen it after the UK general election result to see what may have been added then.
David is Delicious as DJ!! And Hilarious and Wonderfully Vile too! He clearly thoroughly enjoyed playing a character so different to himself in behaviour and attitude. DJ is a very clever witty cynic. He loves seduction more than sex itself and will go to any lengths without worrying about who gets hurt – even killed along the way. Being attached won’t save you – in fact will make him want you even more – like the newlywed bride – of whom he hears about in the gents and tells Stan about whilst changing character from himself to the newlywed husband by respectively increasing and decreasing the space between his thumb and forefinger held down as his crotch! And there are so many similar hilarities – including a blanket covering yet another young lady satisfying him – and his responses in facial expressions and sounds - whilst he chats up the bride.
There’s dancing and singing too – most notably between DJ and Stan – DJ moves so sensually and naturally whilst Stan is both funnily awkward yet really good too.
The production is excellent and includes a moving statue of Charles II, staging of Soho itself and a flying bicycle J
This stage-play is by award-winning writer Patrick Marber - a radical entertaining adaptation of Molière’s original play - and was first performed at The Donmar Warehouse in 2006. I did not see that version – in which Rhys Ifans played DJ – but get the impression this one is more impressive. I also have a very strong suspicion that DT did some co-writing with his friend Patrick J I really enjoyed the whole show – especially on second seeing being much closer to the stage in stalls second row – so well worth it! – my favourite part of it is DJ’s rant speech on hypocrisy and the ‘development of man’. It’s highly amusing, clever, witty, scathing, cynical and in some ways self-deprecating eg. the ref to the insincere work of actors and doing the ‘ancestry show’. He comments how we have developed from the caveman drawing an animal on his wall – ‘Well Done’ – to Vlogging and telling each other ‘I bought a plum’. How we are obsessed by others ‘Follow Me, Follow Me, Like Me, Like Me’ – which he demonstrates with a thumbs up. How a ‘concrete block’ is now an iPhone! We just have ‘different tools’.
I’d highly recommend this except that I can’t because the final performance was yesterday! Whoops and apologies. Though selfishly it’s good to have my own experience of it to look back on and remind me of those feelings being an audience member for one of the shows I have found most enjoyable and entertaining J Sadly no DVD but the stage-play is available.
Wyndham’s is a lovely theatre in Louis XVI style from 1899. A more classic space in SOHO!

Don Juan in Soho – Review by TheRestrictedReviewer © 2017