Monday, May 16, 2016

A Quixotic Quixote

Everyone's favorite bumbling fool returns to the Guthrie's Dowling Studio

Photo courtesy of the Guthrie Theater.
Classics are classics for a reason.

There are hot debates in the literary/art world about what establishes the "canon," and those conversations have to be had. But that doesn't mean that work formally considered a part of that canon isn't still amazing, even if it's no long included on the short list of "best works."

Don Quixote is just such a story. In any of its many permutations, Don Quixote is a charming tale about the true key to happiness (belief and imagination, not drudgery and confining oneself to society's expectations) that stands up to the test of time more than 400 years after it was first published. The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha (IGDQM), the new show running in the Dowling Studio at the Guthrie, is just as charming as its predecessor.
Photo courtesy of the Guthrie Theater.
IGDQM takes the original adventures of Don Quixote, in which he battles "giants" (windmills), pledges allegiance to a nearby "noble lady" (farmgirl, who has no idea who he is), and hires a "squire" (cons the loveable Sancho Panza into following him around), and embellishes. It imagines a new (and much happier) ending to the novel and introduces the audience to part two of the original book, which is less familiar to many than the first half.

Four Humor adds a unique spin to this show and they do it with aplomb. You can't help but like Ryan Lear's portrayal of Don Quixote, which includes a fabulous mustache, pillowed armor and an extremely enthusiastic transformation of a broom into a horse. He is utterly charming and perfectly conveys the spirit that makes Don Quixote such a wonderful character, despite his crazy-ness. Brant Miller is equally fabulous as Sancho and punctuates each development with a great punchline.
Photo courtesy of the Guthrie Theater.
Dario Tangelson s hilarious as the narrator and author of Don Quixote, Miguel de Cervantes. His musings on why and how he constructed the story add a lot of depth to this quick portrayal and set the show up with a smile. The ensemble cast does some good work as well, particularly Adrew San Miguel and Andy Rocco Kraft as the Duke and Duchess, whose snide asides create a true sense of empathy for Don Quixote.

There isn't much set to speak of (just simple white panels that move around as the play progresses), but the show does use some innovative live filming and projection techniques. The projected images are very simple but add a full sense of place to each scene. The costumes are likewise simple but charming, particularly Don Quixote's. His makeshift pillow armor and lampshade helmet indicate his mental state while still somehow appearing rather debonair, and it works.
Photo courtesy of the Guthrie Theater.
It's always good to see old stories get a new face and this is a delightful interpretation of the eternal Don Quixote. It's a great primer to the story if you haven't read it (or don't have the patience to slog through the 1,600 pages or so of the original). IGDQM runs by at a clippy 90 minutes with no intermission and is a family friendly, good time for all. It's only running through March 22, so make sure you check it out! More information can be found by clicking on this link.