The gentle plucking of a Spanish guitar and the whining sigh of a violin were the only sounds needed to set the stage for Theatre St. Thomas’ The Trickster of Seville and His Stone Guest.
The trickster is none other than Don Juan, Spanish playwright Tirso de Molina’s original infamous rouge.
In our time, the definition of a Don Juan would probably be a simple player. TST’s Don Juan isn’t quite that though. Robbie Lynn plays the young noble as an unhinged and manipulative madman driven by lust for sensual pleasure. Don Juan’s wheedling manipulation and self-justifications for his actions make him a terrifying character, albeit entertaining to watch.
His intentions are not just to get what he wants from these women, but to maliciously ruin their lives in the process. It is the evilness in his intent that makes Don Juan an extreme prototype of a patriarchal society.
Lynn’s physicality brought a sneaky slinkiness to the role, adding to the heeby-jeeby feeling you get whenever Don Juan appears onstage.
While Don Juan casts a darker tone over the plot of the play, The King of Castille (Matt LeBlanc) was the comedic relief. LeBlanc gave the role a hilarious touch with antics and mannerisms inspired by Kuzco from The Emperor’s New Groove, including a very sassy snap-and-point whenever he would exit upstage through the tall red velvet curtains.
In fact, TST’s production included throws to many modern practices, like complex secret handshakes between the Marquis of La Mota and his bros, and the sarcastic response of “smooth” to the musician who fails to catch a coin Don Juan tosses to him.
The costumes did create some confusion to the time of the play. While some seemed appropriate to the 14th century setting, other characters were dressed in modern steampunk goth attire that didn’t quite fit.
The music of the show was excellent. The Spanish influence was blended with a lilting folk sound that gave both the flavour of Spain and the feudal times of lords and peasants.
Dustyn Forbes did wonderfully as Catalinón, Don Juan’s exasperated servant who sometimes takes the role of the angel on his shoulder.
Also of note was Ben Smith as Duke Octavio, the lover of Duchess Isabel (Kira Chisholm) – the first victim of Don Juan we are introduced to at the start of the play. Smith’s boyish innocence as the lovesick Octavio is played so purely you can’t help but smile.
The special effects of the play were also very well done, from the lighting of the stage floor to create the ripples of water in the seaside town of Tarragona, to the spooky voice effect on the ghost of Don Gonzalo (Alexander Rioux).
Overall, TST’s Trickster of Seville highlighted the problems with a male-dominated sexist culture where women are seen as properties to be stolen and won, as well as providing the age-old cautionary tale of how the pursuit of excessive pleasure leads down the path to evil.
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