Sex makes people do funny things. The Clockwork Theater’s production of David Ives’ Don Juan in Chicago pokes fun at the lengths people will go to in order to have sex, avoid it, or have it with that special someone (whether or not he or she shares the sentiment).
Reviewed by Ilena George
Vascillating erratically between comedy and drama, damnation and redemption, The Clockwork Theater's Don Juan in Chicago re-imagines the story of legendary lothario Don Juan, who makes a deal with the devil: immortality in exchange for the successful seduction of a different woman each night. The trouble is he’s not a particularly smooth operator and, like its protagonist, the production needs to add a little grease to its wheels.
With its reliance on one-liners and fast-paced comedy sequences, Don Juan in Chicago plays out with the timing of a sitcom. Kooky and heavy-handed light and sound tricks—lighting and thunder as well as cartoonish announcements of the Devil’s arrival—underscore the play’s dark-humored though light-hearted moments. Ives’ deft rhyming couplets and overblown Shakespearean ending, with parents reuniting with long-lost children and true love ruling the day, highlights the fact that the play works best when it’s not taking itself too seriously. Consequentially, its serious moments feel leaden and lifeless. In addition, Mike Cinquino as Don Juan morosely sleepwalks through all but the beginning of the play, leaving the heavy lifting to the non-titular characters, who are more than capable of carrying the action, particularly Doug Nyman as Don Juan’s long-suffering servant Leporello and Stephen Balantzian as Mephistopheles.
Despite an ending that tries to tack on a much happier (and loftier) twist on what had otherwise been fairly dark in subject matter and fairly light in tone, the play partially redeems itself with its creative series of dirty jokes. After all, even the devil enjoys a good laugh.
Don Juan in Chicago by David Ives
Directed by Owen M. Smith
Kirk Theater at Theater Row, 410 West 42nd Street
May 26th-June 9th
Tuesday-Friday at 8pm, Saturdays at 2:00 and 8:00, Sundays at 3:00
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