Spoleto: the American premiere of Don John

mrfabulous3.jpgWhat does Gisli Orn Gardarsson got that other guys ain’t got?

OK, so he has a face like Clive Owen. OK, so he has a physique like Matthew McConaughey. OK, so he’s also a gymnast — limber, strong, durable.

OK, OK, OK. Enough, already. And by the way, so what? Some of us know how to type. Really, really, really, really fast.

Who does Mr. Fabulous think he is? Don Juan?

Well, yes. In fact, he does.

Gardarsson originated the lead in the American premiere of Don John. The play is the contemporary update of the classic myth of Don Juan, the original ladykiller, the first international playboy, the proto-womanizer, the Ur-man of mystery.

“Every man has wanted to be Don Juan and love 1,000 women at some point in his life.” Gardarsson says by phone from London. “It’s really interesting to play a devil like that.”

Sheesh, SeƱor Gisli. You don’t have to rub it in.

Director Emma Rice adapted the story from Mozart’s operatic version, Don Giovanni. But she set the story in the context of a carnival to suggest the uninhibited and unleashed sexuality of the hero. In fact, the staging is extremely physical. Much of what’s communicated between characters happens with the body.

But the master is Don John. He’s a real 60-minute man. He prowls and then he comes over. But never too soon. He smokes, he drinks. He takes pleasure in not just his women but in seeing other men looking at him looking at women who are looking at him.

And no one stops him. Why? Because he behaves badly, and it rubs off easily. Others follow in his wake, like sloppy seconds. Yet he’s convinced he’s not such a bad guy, Gardarsson says, trying to explain some of the tangled up psychology at work inside Don John’s head. He knows he’s breaking hearts, but he’s lost. He’s looking for something, but he doesn’t know what it is.

And — in the hope that we hate him an eensy-weensy bit less — it turns out he’s in pain.

Whole story …

June 5, 2009 4:03 PM | | Comments (0)

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This page contains a single entry by FlyOver published on June 5, 2009 4:03 PM.

Spoleto Festival: Re-visioning Louise was the previous entry in this blog.

Spoleto: Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet is the next entry in this blog.

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