Left - Dan Wyllie & Daniel Frederiksen. Cover - Dan Wyllie & Kate Jenkinson. Photos - Jeff Busby
There’s something terribly wrong with today’s version of the romantic comedy. You see, first a man enters the scene, mysteriously charismatic and seemingly untamable. Next a woman enters, lusciously virginal and thus we all laugh with glee - easy prey. They meet, fall in lust and just as the story gets decidedly dangerous…the man finds himself tamed, the woman therefore still honored and the story ends!
Now I’m not one to laugh at other’s misfortune, however in my opinion and I’m sure others, that is frankly boring entertainment. Hence why the introduction of the deliciously naughty Don Juan, in any genre, will never cease to thrill. Untamable and unashamedly proud of his sexual conquests, playwrights before have created this man as a legend, who all are in awe of. Men envy him, yet admire his brashness and success, women fear him, yet yearn for his attention and seduction and it is this which can create quite a feat when rewriting this character in modern day life. Originally scoped by Molina and then established by Moliere, it is with success that Patrick Marber’s finely crafted script closely follows Moliere’s interpretation of the character and catapults him into the 21st Century with an individual and contemporary spin.
Flash forward many centuries and this Don Juan (now appropriately named DJ) is residing in Soho, accompanied by his ever faithful servant Stan and complete with an up to date Blackberry filled with juicy information on each successful conquest. From Croatian supermodels to saintly virgins, DJ’s list stops at none and director Peter Evans goes beyond the script in creating not only an outrageously immoral womaniser, schlep and cheat but also an absurdly funny and entertaining one at that.
Dan Wyllie, brilliantly cast in the slick role of DJ, brings down the house with his ever-flowing ideas of seductions and never once is there a hint of failure, a lack of motivation or flaw in the charisma of Don Juan.
Daniel Frederiksen steals the show as Stan, DJ’s faithful, yet pitied sidekick who through lack of freedom or the mere fact of being seduced by the man himself, stays loyal to his master until the end. Frederiksen not only holds enormous comedic talent but also the ability to present the softer and often sadder side to any situation. This range of talent is evident in all and it really is hats off to this stellar cast for their brilliant and wide ranging performances. Katie Jean Harding makes a brilliant MTC debut as the broken hearted Elvira and MTC old favourite Bob Hornery makes a hysterical cameo as the poor father, struggling to understand the sexual deviances of his own son. This superb ensemble, never once missing a beat, partake in the cleverly choreographed scene changes which add pace and dimension to the show and the minimalist set and props only give them more leverage to shine.
By stripping the black box of the Fairfax Theatre, set designer Fiona Crombie uses the space to its full advantage and presents a realistic and contemporary vision of Soho. The vast set changes of the early Don Juan versions are eliminated, all by her clever use of canvases being levered onto stage to change each scene. Matt Scott’s dark lighting and smoke only add an element of mystery while David Franzke’s history of composing for comedy is delightfully apparent, giving each scene a comedic life of its own.
It is with a great vigor that MTC enter the season of 2008 with a production that truly deserves all variety of praise. Patrick Marber’s rendition of Don Juan in Soho is the work of an extremely clever and intellectual playwright and Peter Evans, along with his exceptional ensemble, do justice and more to this monstrous legend.
Melbourne Theatre Company presents
DON JUAN IN SOHO
by Patrick Marber
Venue: Arts Centre Fairfax Studio | 100 St Kilda Rd, Melbourne
Dates: Wednesday 9 January until 16 February
Performance Schedule: Mon & Tue 6.30pm (7 & 8 Jan 8pm), Wed 1pm & 8pm (no mat 9 Jan), Thu & Fri 8pm, Sat 4pm & 8.30pm (5 Jan 2 & 8pm)
Tickets: $16 - $75.30
Bookings: Ticketmaster 1300 723 038 or www.mtc.com.au