‘New niches of humour & fun’: DON QUIXOTE – West End ★★★★

In London theatre, Opinion, Plays, Reviews, Ticket recommendations by Rev StanLeave a Comment

Garrick Theatre, London – until 2 February 2019

It’s taken two years for the RSC’s hit Don Quixote to make it to the West End with David Threlfall and Rufus Hound reprising their roles as the hapless knight errant and his squire. Adapted by James Fenton, it not only notches up the famous scenes from Miguel de Cervantes’ novel, but the production design and direction find new niches of humour and fun.

It tells the story of Don Quixote (Threlfall) who, having read too many romantic novels, decides he is a knight errant and sets upon a mission to restore chivalry. He takes with him illiterate farmer Sancho (Hound) to act as his squire and in the first half we see them embroiled in a series of absurd scrapes brought about by Don Quixote’s delusions and fantastical notions.

Their adventures are vividly and cleverly brought to life utilising a variety of media including puppetry, acrobatics and wire work, but it is the small, often background detail which richly elevates this production.

From the personality of Don Quixote’s horse and Sancho’s mule as depicted by a look or facial movement to the hapless servant bumping into pieces of the set at the back, there always seems to be something amusing going on.

Hound’s Sancho breaks the fourth wall, draws the audience in at the start as both co-conspirators and the subject of jokes in a set piece that echoes stand-up. As the comic sidekick he dominates the first half but after the interval, when the play takes on a different tone, it is Threlfall who comes to the fore.

Don Quixote the ridiculous becomes the cruelly ridiculed and Trelfall handles this transition in a way that plucks at heartstrings and evokes sympathy.

For me, the only bum note was the singing. I had checked for references to songs and lyrics but must have missed them – musicals really aren’t my thing.

The Royal Shakespeare Companys Don Quixote London 2018. Photography by Manuel Harlan
Fortunately, there aren’t full blown stop and sing numbers, rather scenes where lines are half sung which nonetheless grated and frustrated the pace of storytelling.

But it is a personal preference my friend Kate, who accompanied me, is a musical fan and had the opposite view and thought those sequences served the play well.

Putting that to one side Don Quixote is marvellous fun, the first half full of laughs the second more poignant. I’m giving it four stars and Kate gave it five.

Definitely one for the family over the festive season, you can see it at the Garrick Theatre until 2 February.

Keep scrolling for more production images and related posts.

Rufus Hound and David Threlfall in the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Don Quixote London 2018. Photography by Manuel Harlan.

Farrell Cox, Ruth Everett and Rosa Robson in the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Don Quixote London 2018. Photography by Manuel Harlan.

Joshua McCord in the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Don Quixote London 2018. Photography by Manuel Harlan.

The Royal Shakespeare Companys Don Quixote London 2018. Photography by Manuel Harlan

 

The Royal Shakespeare Companys Don Quixote London 2018. Photography by Manuel Harlan

 

The Royal Shakespeare Companys Don Quixote London 2018. Photography by Manuel Harlan

 

Gabriel Fleary in the Royal Shakespeare Companys Don Quixote London 2018. Photography by Manuel Harlan

The Royal Shakespeare Companys Don Quixote London 2018. Photography by Manuel Harlan
You might also like to read:

Interview: Writer Lisa Carroll on not fetishising Ireland and laughing at her own jokes.

West end review: Does Martin McDonagh’s new play A Very Very Very Dark Matter measure up?

Transferred to the West End: The heartbreaking Summer and Smoke as reviewed from its run at the Almeida Theatre

 

 

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Rev Stan
Revstan really is a reverend (it's amazing what you can buy on the internet) but not a man (the Stan bit is a long story). By day, she is a freelance editor and copywriter; at night, she escapes into the world of theatre and has been blogging about it at theatre.revstan.com since 2007. She says: “I'll watch pretty much anything, from something performed on a stage the size of a tea tray to the West End and beyond. The only exception is musicals. Tried 'em and they just don't do anything positive for me.”
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Rev Stan on FacebookRev Stan on InstagramRev Stan on RssRev Stan on Twitter
Rev Stan
Revstan really is a reverend (it's amazing what you can buy on the internet) but not a man (the Stan bit is a long story). By day, she is a freelance editor and copywriter; at night, she escapes into the world of theatre and has been blogging about it at theatre.revstan.com since 2007. She says: “I'll watch pretty much anything, from something performed on a stage the size of a tea tray to the West End and beyond. The only exception is musicals. Tried 'em and they just don't do anything positive for me.”

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