Blackbird Theatre
Don Juan adapted by John Wright

Dates and Venue 26 December 2012 – 26 January 2013, Tue-Sat at 8pm (Sun matinees 2pm) | The Cultch, 1895 Venables Street

Don Juan – Peter Jorgensen Sganarelle – Simon Webb Charlotte – Pippa Mackie Pierrot – Sebastien Archibald Don Elvira, Mathurine – Barbara Kozicki Herr Gusmann – Ted Cole

Reviewer Stephanie Johnston

Moliere’s tale of Don Juan has been reproduced in many forms. In Vancouver, it takes the stage under the direction of John Wright’s adaptation. Don Juan is supported by his moral compass and servant, Sganarelle. Don Juan is the tale of a rogue Casanova who hopes to never see any consequences for his promiscuous and incredulous behaviour.

The main theme of the play is evident. Don Juan (Peter Jorgensen) seems a bit hesitant in the role but pulls it off effortlessly. His ego and voice become amplified with synchronized samurai sword-fighting and singing duets with prospective wives and with his right hand man.

By the second act, his previous wife Don Elvira (Barbara Kozicki) is unable to convince him to seek either forgiveness or go to hell. Three Stooges’ familiar physical comedy, coupled with two brothers on horse in a costume, provided a lot of audience entertainment.

In the second act, we also encounter Charlotte and Pierrot, who are very strong minor characters. Charlotte (Pippa Mackie) and Pierrot (Sebastien Archibald) are able to engage balcony members and provide clever use of the stage. Both actors are very confident in their roles. Their accents and costumes make the scene a nice contrast between Don Juan trying to justify his promiscuous nature to his slave.

Pierrot, heart-broken and a bit perturbed by this, stands up and tries to convince Charlotte otherwise: that Don Juan has done nothing to win her heart and it might be misleading. Charlotte then meets with Mathurine (Barbara Kozicki) and finds out they are both to wed Don Juan. This becomes complicated and a great source of entertainment. Sgnarelle tries again unsuccessfully to be some sort of moral guidance towards the women involved.

Both Don Juan and Sganarelle leave to disguise themselves as a doctor and as a poor man, in hopes to remedy their multiple wives. Despite the rogue nature of Don Juan, they stumble upon the grave of the Commander that the Casanova had killed.

In the final scene, Don Juan finds that his culminating deeds catch up with him as he must face the perils of hell. This was expected, as it would be unlikely to have Don Juan repent from all his sins, but the subtext is a bit unclear.

Understanding that Moliere was from an era of monogamy, it begs to question where the lines of polyamory lie? Do polyamorous individuals expect to end up judged by only Saint Peter? Or is heaven only reserved for monogamist creatures? The very last moments on stage leave the audience questioning whether this was the message intended or not. Then, sadly, we see Sganarelle throwing himself on the ground and demanding payment only to refuse it shortly after.

With an array of creative costumes and strong acting, the play is a nice adaptation from the original story. The visual effects were compelling, and the overall performance was well received by the audience. Moliere would have been pleased!

© 2012 Stephanie Johnston