The infamous amoral hedonist Don Juan (or DJ in Marber shorthand) and his antics are relocated to modern-day Soho where the broken and brazen, hustlers and hoorays all pack in to one seething square mile. The production is directed by Donmar artistic director Michael Grandage, who also directed Marber’s similarly radical rewrite of Strindberg’s Miss Julie at the same address two years ago.
Ifans – who was last seen on the London stage playing the maniac in the 2003 Donmar Warehouse production of Accidental Death of an Anarchist (See News, 14 Jul 2006) - is joined in the cast of Don Juan in Soho by Stephen Wight, David Ryall, Laura Pyper, Richard Flood, Abdul Salis, Seroca Davis, Jessica Brooks and Chris Corrigan. The production is designed by Christopher Oram.
While there were some concerns that the dangerous stakes of Moliere’s original may have been underplayed, first night critics were nonetheless seduced by both Marber’s reinvention of a stage classic and Ifans’ “tour de force” performance as the anti-hero at the centre of it. There was also high praise for the supporting performances and for the evocative elements of Grandage’s production and Oram’s design that firmly ground the piece in the seedy Soho of today.
Further, coming as it does in the wake of A Voyage Round My Father and Frost/Nixon, both of which have now transferred to the West End, the production elicited several comments about the success of Grandage’s regime, with one critic declaring the Donmar “an infallible hit factory”. The December timing also prompted many to recommend it as an adults’ Christmas alternative to pantomime.
- by Terri Paddock