Don Quixote – Theatre of the Blind ***

The Bongo Club, 5 – 22 August 2009

Reviewed for the British Theatre Guide

What we call madness is just a different way of perceiving reality; blindfolded, we’re able to ‘see’ the world as the chivalry-obsessed Don Quixote (Sunny Moodie) sees it. If he claims to espy a castle, who are we to argue? If he says old Lorenzo’s daughter is the fairest maiden in all the world, how can we attest any different?

Muckle Roe’s production tickles three of our remaining five senses (sensibly steering clear of taste); armour rattles, a horse’s tail flicks at our faces, the odour of cowardly squire Sancho’s … fear … makes us wish we hadn’t turned up, and hissing sounds, screams and the smell of smoke combine into a chillingly convincing torture scene.

Charlie Ward’s adaptation specifically nominates the church as the villain of the piece, rather than simply the general tendency of people towards cruelty. While this diminishes the scope of Cervantes’ moral somewhat, combining with the blindfolds to absolve the audience of any complicity with the Don’s tormentors, it also helps tighten the plot to fit the 65-minute running time, and to provide a more visceral ending than Cervantes’ merely sobering one.

Written by Charlie Ward after Miguel de Cervantes

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