Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Don Juan Not Redeemed But Gets Rapt Attention of the Audience

Don Juan Not Redeemed 

But Gets Rapt Attention of the Audience


Good News Reporter, Joanne Quinn-Smith

Don Juan Comes Home from the War is a classic case study of the wishful thinking of the world that justice   Pittsburgh Irish Classical Theatre has won another theatrical battle with this one. 
and fair play do exist and that the Vanquisher becomes the Vanquished and in loneliness and despair regrets his folly.

There are two types of regional or local folk heroes.  One of them is being rich and famous and the other is the glamour of being a soldier gone off to war and then again survived.   Add that to well touted sexual charm and conquest and this is the stuff from which legends are born.  In his preface, the playwright Odon von Horvath remarks that it is not known if Don Juan was a real person.  But it is not hard to imagine a man or MEN in such a hedonistic life style as pre war Berlin was famous for breeding not one but several wealthy, seeming gallant A-listing males.  This actually could happen in any decadent society where deeper moral and values pale in comparison with being valued superficially for charm and popularity and excessive self gratification.

My companion for the evening commented that as usual the quality of PICT’s actors was world class but that the play itself made her “Angry at being a woman.”
David Whalen was as usual exceptional as Don Juan.  His cool, detached style as the conflicted anti-hero could not be denied.  Throughout the play Don Juan speaks of always pursuing love and that he feels like he is being punished but he knows not for what.  The playwright seems to want us to believe that the casualties of war are those who SURVIVE.  I think you can extend that to:  “The casualties of a valueless society based on instant gratification are the worst when the willing participants realize that they were victims to loveless, relationshipless pursuits.”

The great seducer in all decaying societies has been “Eat drink and be merry because tomorrow we die.”  But then we don’t and must face the consequences of guilt and self mockery.  Don Juan’s inescapable power over women becomes his nemesis even when he “tries” to be good.  His attempts become a mockery and in the end a final female calls out in the night, “Stay with me tonight and die tomorrow.”
What the playwright never says in the play is that in his pursuit of “love” like so many men and often women who want to be “adored” Don Juan was used as he used and never really loved.
There are no “love scenes” in the play probably for that reason, the closest Don Juan comes to love is jilting his bride at the altar.  There is one brief moment with Elke one of his youthful conquests from the past when you think he might “get it” but shortly after he ends up in the abbey questioning God and ending up mocking him and his nuns for their piety.

There is no resolution for Don Juan, he is not saved, and he is not redeemed.  The playwright would have us believe it is because his reputation “his Past” is too well formed and the pull of the world will not allow him.  But in the end isn’t it all about Free Will and Discipline.  It’s about responsibility to oneself and to others.  There is a passage in the bible, “To whom much is given, much is required.”  There are men and WOMEN who take their charisma to the stage as motivational speakers or pastors or even political figures and there are men who waste it fleetingly taking it to bed.  Don Juan took it to his grave.

For entertainment value Don Juan Comes Back from the War is an amazing piece of theatre art.  But BEWARE it will make you THINK and like me perhaps become a bit didactic.  Ah yes, but for one hour and thirty minutes without intermission, you will be mesmerized by drama and hedonism and above all—stellar performances.  Don Juan will perform through August 31 at the Stephen Foster Memorial and tickets are available at http://picttheatre.org

One more kudo and an aside.  Director Alan Stanford has done a stunning job and once again with minimal costuming. He is to be complimented for having his actors put their close on instead of take them off.  A warning to the puritanical, there is brief nudity in the beginning of the play but quite frankly it is like this comment an aside rather than an issue.  Personally I don't think it was necessary, it did not add nor detract from the overall greatness of the production.

Joanne Quinn-Smith, Award winning internet radio broadcaster, blogger, author  and internet radio and TV network editor and publisher.  Joanne is the owner and CEO, Creative Energy Officer, of Dreamweaver Marketing Associates, a successful Pittsburgh-based marketing company. She is a grandmother and great grandmother, an unlikely trendsetter for online journalism and broadcasting. Joanne is internationally known as the “Get Your Google On” Gal.  But better known as Techno Granny™ to over one million accumulated online listeners worldwide.   Joanne has created a revolutionary online NEW MEDIA platform in Internet broadcasting, blogging and other social media participation that represents the new second generation of World Wide Web interactions, known in technology circles as Web 2.0. JQS is the online publisher of PositivelyPittsburghLiveMagazine.com, an online community magazine to disseminate the Positive News for Positive Pittsburghers.  PPL Mag is Pittsburgh’s First Internet radio and TV network with syndicated channels and online radio and TV capabilities.  Joanne is also the author of "Folly of Marketing Plan in Your Head, 101 Compelling Reasons to Write One."

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