Don Juan in Soho review at Donmar Warehouse London
Must lust always get its comeuppance? In Patrick Marber’s energetic updating, Moliere’s Don Juan retains its comic brio, even if it fails to find a modern equivalent of roasting in the flames of hell.
The son of an earl, Don Juan, here called DJ, has a fantastic sexual appetite, and chases skirt compulsively while openly acknowledging the fact that he has never really grown up. Rhys Ifans gives DJ an attractive sleazy charm and his cynical honesty can be beguiling.
At the start of the play, DJ ditches his wife Elvira, an Irish charity worker, and pursues every woman he comes across. Helping him in his seductions is his trembling sidekick Stan, a streetwise London lad who dreams of nothing more than settling down.
Marber’s play shines with a dark wit and is studded with memorable lines. DJ is described as “Satan in a suit from Saville Row” and Stan as “nothing but a fly on a horse’s shitty arse”. And there is a real frisson of danger when his DJ asks a Muslim to blaspheme against Allah.
Michael Grandage’s sprightly production, with Christopher Oram’s luridly lit sets, is dominated by Ifans, who charms the women and abuses the men with a lustful energy that tails off into dissipated exhaustion. He is ably supported by Stephen Wight’s Stan, Laura Pyper’s Elvira and David Ryall as his father.
Yet, despite its gleeful comedy, verbal agility and contemporary references, you can’t quite shake off the feeling that DJ’s final punishment is not quite as scary as it was in Moliere’s original.
Donmar Warehouse, London, November 30-February 10
- Patrick Marber
- Michael Grandage
- Donmar Warehouse
- Cast includes
- Rhys Ifans, Laura Pyper and Stephen Wight
- Running time
- 1hr 30mins
We need your help…
When you subscribe to The Stage, you’re investing in our journalism. And our journalism is invested in supporting theatre and the performing arts.
The Stage is a family business, operated by the same family since we were founded in 1880. We do not receive government funding. We are not owned by a large corporation. Our editorial is not dictated by ticket sales.
We are fully independent, but this means we rely on revenue from readers to survive.
Help us continue to report on great work across the UK, champion new talent and keep up our investigative journalism that holds the powerful to account. Your subscription helps ensure our journalism can continue.