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Don Juan

Citizens Theatre, Glasgow
4 stars
As serial philanderers go, Don Juan keeps on coming. Goldoni’s very serious eighteenth century look at the soulless vacuum our handsome hero exists in has him thrust at life like a nervous tic. Here, his chameleon-like tendencies are exploited to the hilt in Jeremy Raison’s audacious new version, taken from Robert David MacDonald’s mid 1990s translation.

In his own production, co-directed with Maxine Braham, Raison casts Juan as John D, a self-aggrandising twenty-first century sex addict and celerity string-puller. Tempted into some parallel universe costume drama, he’s bedazzled by Neve McIntosh’s untouchable Anna. Not, however, before he works his charms on every woman in sight, only to be spewed out into a modern day back-alley where redemption might just come calling.

The opening bathroom bump and grind floor show sets the tone, which comes frock-deep with the post-modern knowingness of TV drama’s recent descent into fiction, Lost In Austen. Everything that follows is played in heavy breathing inverted commas, with the second half taking place in the sort of country house fancy dress party which these days only Stephen Poliakoff plays can afford.

Inbetween its cross-class, gender-bending liaisons, Mark Springer’s John/Juan makes for a struttingly metrosexual rake, with James Anthony Pearson a sexually troubled Octavio. As a double act, Pearson’s interplay with Pauline Knowles’ cross-dressing Isabella – raped twice by Juan in the ugliest of historical re-enactments - is more disturbing than any pantomime. As a whole this may not be quite as sexy as advertised, but with Stuart Jenkins’ vivid day-glo lighting and Graham Sutherland’s sound design flipping between time zones and BPMs, it’s a thought-provoking one night stand to savour.

The Herald, September 22nd 2008

ends

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