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Nov. 4, 2004
Don Juan meets a Single Woman
by ELLIN BELTZ
It is not true that life
is one damn thing after another; it is one damn thing over and
Edna St. Vincent Millay (1892-1950)
'Twas the night before Halloween
and opening night of Redwood Curtain's latest, Don Juan in
Chicago. Thunder and lightning illuminated 16th-century nobleman,
alchemical experimenter and sexual virgin, Don Juan (Nino Degennaro)
standing in a pentagram summoning the devil. Even after his chattering
manservant Leporello (James Floss) interrupts, the spell takes
hold and, in a sudden flash of fire and brimstone, Mephistopheles
himself (Ron Halverson) appears.
Holly Couling as Dona Elvira
with Nino Degennaro as Don Juan.
Don Juan wants immortality.
Mephistopheles offers a deal: The don must sleep with a different
woman every day -- never with the same one twice -- or go straight
The first woman to come along
is the lovely Dona Elvira (Holly Couling), who confesses her
undying love for Don Juan. He talks her into bed and leaves town
immediately afterwards. She curses him; wishing him dead at any
cost. Mephistopheles reappears and strikes a deal with her. She
becomes immortal too and chases Don Juan through time and space
until 400 years later, after intermission, when she catches up
with him in Chicago.
The sexual revolution is in
full swing, he's broke and living in an apartment with hundreds
of notebooks, recording the 144,000 women he's seduced in 400
years. "Don Johnson" is bored with immortality, broke
and tired of sex and nothing but the endless pursuit of more.
The girl du jour, worldly wise
if overly analyzed Sandy (Terry Desch), is pursued by her homicidal
boyfriend (Randy Wayne). Don's über-geek neighbor, Mike
(Jesse Talbert), seeks advice on how to handle the deliciously
exotic Zoey (Mahealani Davis). While ordinary life is prosaic,
whenever magic is afoot, the characters speak in rhyme. This
oddity alerts Don Juan to the disguised Dona Elvira trying to
catch him unawares and seal his eternal doom.
The worst thing about this play
is trying to stop laughing long enough to hear the next funny
line and the one after that. Playwright David Ives is a master
of pleasing his audience, the pacing is madcap, the characters
full-bodied and marvelously portrayed. Director Bernadette Cheyne
has molded a group of diverse individuals into a dynamic comedic
Heidi Caldwell's costumes are
amazing. From Mephistopheles' incredible cape to Dona Elvira's
slinky Renaissance corset and floating organza ribbons, she captures
the period romance and appeal of both the past and the present.
The set also transforms completely
due to the paintings and scene design of professional set designer
Daniel C. Nyiri. Light design by Monica J. Hubbard and sound
by Emily Carpenter and Everson Corrigan grab you by the gut in
the first scene and never let go until the final moment.
If you're of an age that might
be considered mature, and not offended by bawdy language, adult
situations, pyrotechnics, gunplay, freedom of speech and sexual
innuendo, do not miss this play. Everyone in the opening night
standing room only crowd appeared to love every minute of it.
They loved Leporello running out into the crowd, breaking the
Fourth Wall and involving them in Don Juan's adventures. They
gasped at the brilliant entrances and exits of the maliciously
devilish Mephistopheles. They roared at sluttish Sandy and rooted
for the slinky Elvira as she declared her undying love/hate relationship
with the man she hopes to destroy. They will, undoubtedly tell
all their friends and neighbors, so call for your tickets today
-- or there may not be any!
Don Juan in Chicago runs Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays through
Nov. 20 at 8 p.m. with one Sunday matinee, Nov. 14 at 2 p.m.,
at the Redwood Curtain Theatre, 800 W. Harris, Eureka. Call 443-7688
or visit www.redwoodcurtain.com for reservations and more information.
One night only, Saturday, Nov.
6, at 8 p.m. at the Ferndale Repertory Theatre: Jeanmarie Simpson
performs A Single Woman, a play about Jeannette Rankin,
the first woman elected to the United States Congress. Rankin,
a suffragette and lifelong pacifist, interacted with most of
the greatest of her day; many are portrayed in this piece by
Cameron Crain, the play's director. The $10 tickets benefit Arts
Everyday, a program that brings the arts, in all its varied forms,
into Humboldt schools. Call 786-LIVE for reservations and information
or visit their Web site www.ferndale-rep.org/.
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