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by Tirso de Molina
Translated by Sean O’ Brien
Director Mehmet Ergen

Ustinov Studio, Theatre Royal Bath

It is a sparkling translation, exquisite vision and a great comedy of disguise that drives the rather chaotic soul of Molina’s story just one of the offerings during the Ustinov’s Spanish Golden Age season, touched again by the genius of Laurence Boswell.

The story has touches of Shakespeare, given they were writing around the same time. The verse and rhyme is less evident but the themes of cross dressing, how a woman dressed as a man can offer something more than her male counterpart and then a crashing finale of fun and confusion should entice any theatre lover out on a cold evening.

The Heroine, Donna Juana (Hedydd Dylan) who disguises herself in the green breeches, has been jilted by Don Martin (Doug Rao). She therefore seeks revenge; however the paths cross and turn until no less than four men are dressed in green as Don Martin attempts to woo Donna Ines (Katie Lightfoot.)

These central performances are effortless in their quality and style. Dylan switches from boy to woman without pause for breath, a great central performance appealing to both sexes and adding subtle subtext to the piece.

Rao is a hapless Don Martin in opposition with the ever excellent Simon Scardifield (Don Juan) the humour carries well. The presence of the hugely entertaining, controlling and manipulative Ines, an intriguing creation by Lightfoot, is a wonderful trophy dressed in ivory in the midst of the autumnal shades.

This is a great production the design from Mark Bailey and captures all colours on a renaissance palette alongside the choreography of the Spanish dances from Lucy Cullingford which even feeds into the scene changes.

Mehmet Ergen (director) has created a visual feast drawing sense from the farce and leaving a thought provoking discussion regarding the themes of cross dressing and sexuality.

The Spanish Season is curated by Ustinov Artistic Director, Laurence Boswell and runs until Dec 20th. The productions are in association with Arcola Theatre and The Belgrade Theatre, Coventry. Tour dates will be available.

Petra Schofield