Theater Review: Don Juan

Aspicery of genres coexists in Alexander Morpov’s visually arresting production of Don Juan, ranging from commedia to melodrama.

By HELEN KAYE
February 23, 2011 22:29
1 minute read.
Theater Review: Don Juan

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Aspicery of genres coexists in Alexander Morpov’s visually arresting production of Don Juan, ranging from commedia to melodrama. Of course, the improvisational Renaissance commedia dell’arte is the backbone of Moliere/Morpov’s satirical comedy. The story is that of Don Giovanni and inevitably, among the eclectic rest, shreds of music from Mozart’s great opera accompany the misadventures of Don Juan (Israel “Sasha” Demidov) as depravity gradually masters him.

Don Juan abducts, marries, then abandons Donna Elvira (Neta Shpigelman), then attempts the rape of Donna Anna (Alona Yve), murdering her father, the Commendatore (Gur Koren), as he flees, accompanied by his faithful servant Sganarelle (Dvir Bendek), then it’s the turn of naïve Charlotta (Yael Tokar).

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And so it goes until, at the last the arrival of the Commendatore’s statue signals his descent to Hell, but the hell Don Juan encounters is total solitude, abandoned even by Sganarelle. The fate of tyrants, of whatever ilk, is to be alone at the end.

Sasha Demidov is a charismatic and intelligent actor, but there’s not enough of the careless sexual predator in him for the early Don. Nonetheless, as the production grows morally and visually darker, Demidov’s portrayal gains some of the authority it lacks at the start.

Bendek is a joy to watch as the rascally, ever-human Sganarelle. Yevgeny Terletzky adds luster to the cameo role of the Don’s father, while Tokar and Zion Ashkenazi delight as Charlotta and her ardent, dim-witted swain, Pierrot.

The real star of this production is its visuals: squawking gulls as Don Juan and Sganarelle flee; a movable two-story fishing village that morphs into a luminous underwater world; a forest of dappled trees; and a mausoleum of living marble statues.

This is a production that starts with a whimper and ends with a bang.

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