BWW Review: DON JUAN IN SOHO at Little Theatre, University Of Adelaide
Reviewed by Barry Lenny, Saturday 11th May 2019.
Patrick Marber's 'adults only' play, Don Juan in Soho, written in 2006 and updated in 2017, is loosely based on Molière's 1665 comedy. Having reviewed Mozart's opera, Don Giovanni, only a week ago, there was a distinct feeling of déjà vu about this, particularly as those first two ominous chords of Mozart's overture rang out to introduce the play.
DJ, a minor aristocrat, reluctantly aided by his assistant, Stan, has left his new bride, Elvira, whilst on their honeymoon, to pursue other conquests. Her brothers have sworn revenge. Elvira, the innocent international aids worker, chased around the world by DJ, conned and corrupted by him having saved herself until after marriage, is played by Sarika Young. Having slept with the virgin, at last, he has achieved his sordid goal and has no further use for her. Young gives a good account of the girl who has been sexually awakened and in spite of the rejection, still has feelings for her husband and hopes for his redemption.
Matt Houston, as Stan, is discovered sitting, waiting, sipping a beer and nibbling from a packet of nuts liberated from the mini bar. A glass of scotch is awaiting his master, DJ, who is currently occupied in bed with a Croatian supermodel. Houston brilliantly turns his introduction, and the subsequent fending off of Elvira's brother, Col, into a great warm-up act for the rest of the play, with further sensational asides throughout the play making his character a sort of comical Greek chorus.
The despicable and loathsome DJ, played by Peter Davies, makes his entrance and leads us with him as he pursues further conquests, with Stan his reluctant accomplice. They head off to cause a collision on the Thames with a boat carrying a wedding party, DJs eye on deflowering the virginal bride to be, and they end up in the hospital where he then tries to seduce the bride, having already captivated a rescuers girlfriend, Lottie. Kate Van Der Horst, as Lottie, joined Davies in one of the funniest of sex scenes. Davies gives a fine performance in the role of the libertine, conveying the epitome of the Renaissance rake transposed to today.
A scene in the park, smoking marijuana, and saving Col from a mugging, causing him to hold back Aloysius, the older brother, ends with Soho Square's statue of The Merry Monarch, Charles II, animating and warning DJ that his time is almost up. He and Stan really hope that it is the drugs affecting them. Charles II, of course, ran a hedonistic court and had a string of mistresses, fathering many illegitimate offspring, so he is an appropriate character to lead DJ to his doom.
The second act, unfortunately, starts slowly, dragging as Peter Bleby struggles over his few lines as DJ's father, Louis, but the pace soon picks up again. DJ, meanwhile, entertains three prostitutes in front of his father, in defiance. Davies works his way through DJ's cynically fake change of heart, to ensure that his father does not cut off his finances, and finishes with a superb monologue, a rant against everything from bankers who rob banks to preachers who prey.
There was good support in all of the minor roles and the overall production looked and sounded great. You'll get plenty of laughs from this one.