don juanGateway Theatre
Moliere's Don Juan

Dates and Venue 11 - 27 April 2013, 8pm | Gateway Theatre

Reviewer Ed Farolan

Sophisticated zaniness is perhaps the best phrase to describe this Moliere classic adapted and directed by John Wright and starring Simon Webb as Sganarelle and Peter Jorgensen as Don Juan.

Moliere’s tale of Don Juan has been produced in many forms, but this time, it educates us on what commedia dell'arte is all about: the stock characters, the masks, the role of Arlequino and so on. The medieval commedia is the root of all comedies that have subsequently hit the stages--the comedie francaise, the comedias of Lope de Vega and Calderon, the character comedies of Goldoni, and even in early 20th century films from Chaplin to The Three Stooges.

I found this production quite creative. It combines the traditional commedia with high tech, especially with the use of lights and sound. The last scene was marvelous-- the way Don Juan is dragged to hell. Other scenes were also interesting: the sword fights in the beginning of the play is a contemporary version of the Bali shadow plays, and the golden statue of the Commander is a reflection of street artists of today, all dressed up and painted, staying still, then doing their robotic movements.

Jorgensen and Webb did a fantastic job in their master and slave relationship; Pippa Mackie showed her versatility playing different characters--Ragotin, Charlotte, and several brigands. Ted Cole likewise played multiple roles, and his mastery of voice is shown in the different roles: Gusmann, Beggar, Don Alonso, The Statue, Don Luis. Barbara Kozicki had the perfect Spanish accent as Dona Elvira, and the perfect Canadian accent as Mathurine. Sebastien Archibald is another actor with a mastery of accents, his French accent as Pierrot, and his Spanish accent as Don Carlos, although I felt it sounded more Mexican than Andalusian.

Kudos to the creative team for an excellent production: John Wright for his adaptation and direction; and the production and technical staff--Wayne Spech, David Bloom, John Webber, Marti Wright, Tim Matheson, Ryan McCallion, Jayson McClean, Peter Berring, Joanne P.B. Smith, and Lorilyn Parker.

© 2013 Ed Farolan