BWW Reviews: The Art of Collaboration in Wilma Theater's DON JUAN COMES HOME FROM IRAQ
Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Paula Vogel joined together with the Wilma Theater and a team of actors and directors over the course of two years to develop the world premiere production of Don Juan Comes Home from Iraq. Based on the 1936 work Don Juan Returns from the War by Ödön von Horváth, this piece transpired directly from interviews and playwriting workshops with veterans. With a cast in place when just a few pages of the script existed, this work was created in a truly collaborative setting, a very unique happening in today's theatre.
Amorphous in time and place, the play follows Don Juan, a troubled Marine captain, as he returns home from war to find his girlfriend Cressida missing. Juan's search for Cressida takes the audience on a surreal journey through history, time and memory, while serving the greater purpose of relating the experiences of our veterans and the problems they face when returning home to a society with little connection to and understanding of life at war.
The roles of Don Juan and Cressida were bravely and brilliantly portrayed by Keith J. Conallen and Kate Czajkowski, respectively, who created honest and relatable characters. While some of the ensemble was oddly cast, others more than made up for this, such as the excellent multi-character depictions by Melanya Finister and Sarah Gliko.
The production was beautifully staged, with a raised, mobile platform set and great lighting. The mechanical and stark atmosphere allowed for seamless transition across the plethora of places and times.
Overall the play was a poignant, challenging and bold look at modern war and its moral conflicts and forever consequences. The Wilma Theater's production Don Juan Comes Home from Iraq runs through April 20, 2014. For tickets and more information, visit https://wilmatheater.org.
Photo Credit: Alexander Iziliaev