Edinburgh Fringe 2018
High octane, full on theatre from New Zealand in this novel adaptation of Moliere’s Don Juan.
Assembly George Square’s Bubble theatre is living up to its name, bubbling like a cauldron as the five strong cast that are New Zealand-based A Slightly Isolated Dog, complete with wonderfully awful French accents, work the queue waiting to see their idiosyncratic take on Moliere’s version of that classic tale, Don Juan. It’s full on, in your face, camp, commedia dell’arte improv, the sort of acting that takes a lot of courage on the part of the performer, is difficult to pull off but very, very funny when it works. And all that’s before we’ve even started on the play itself.
Don Juan is the world’s greatest lover – the most audacious lothario. What he wants, he does, a big man who lives and loves life to the full and beyond. And on this intimate, thrust (pardon the innuendo) stage, our Don has the perfect environment in which to strut his stuff, to charm those ladies and to entice a few gentlemen as well. And we have lots of Dons in this version – all five cast and even a few audience members take on the part at some point.
Be excited (or be warned!), this is real interactive theatre. Anyone in the audience could end up either playing a part (with a bit of prompting) or being used as part of the extensive and utterly hilarious improv that litters the plot. But it’s all done with such warmth, energy and affection that you can’t help but feel an integral part of the production.
It looks so anarchic and the “plot” is so full of absurdity and surrealism that it leaves you feeling pleasantly disorientated, breathless even. But this lot are masters of their crafts which extend to impressive mime and physical theatre (watch out for the fight sequence), ingenious running improv worked around unsuspecting audience members, impressive harmonised singing and delivery and diction that wring every nuance from a tightly crafted script that makes the audience think as well as collapse in fits of laughter.
Perhaps a bit less use of audience members to deliver dialogue would have avoided breaking the tempo of the piece, as it thrives on (and, indeed, needs) its manic pace, although the cast control this with clever use of plot twists and effective use of silence. But that’s a minor quibble with what was a riot of comedy, farce and slapstick – and more besides.
If you like your farce full on, if you’re up for being wooed by some gorgeous men (and ladies too!) and you enjoy the outrageous, this is for you. And there’s no hiding in the back row either, so brush up on that cod French accent.