Free spirits and dark places: Don Juan @cockpittheatre

Don Juan at the Cockpit theatre is a classy staging of the classic tale from Moliére with some strong performances by its young cast. It is baroque theatre at its creepiest and surrealist. You may find however that in the attempt to play up some of the spookier elements of the story, what ends up missing is the comedy from the tale.

The Don Juan legend of a wealthy libertine who devotes his life to seducing women, pretending to marry them and leaving them when they bore him. In Moliére's version of the story, he has just rejected a woman he led from convent and she promises that he will face heaven's wrath. Escaping pursuit by the woman's brother's who intend to force him to marry or will kill him, he stumbles upon the tomb of a man he previously murdered. Upon entering the tomb and seeing a statue of the man he invites him to dine with him. To his shock the statue nods. The sprits seem to be  conspiring against Don Juan's ways...

This is a moody and atmospheric production with some great costumes and effective projections. At times it is a little too dark and underlit so it is hard to appreciate the performances. It also drags a bit at the beginning.  But after the first twenty minutes the performances seemed to become more focussed and the story gathers pace. Xavier Lafarie in the title role has the charisma and the French accent to hold the production together. Some of the other members of the cast are equally good. Geraint Hill, playing a range of supporting roles and Anais Alvarado as one of the peasant women add to the appeal of the show.

If only there were more moments of comedy, but all told a fine production from La Compagnie de la Flibuste, founded by director  Clement de Dadelsen in Paris ten years ago. Don Juan plays at the Cockpit theatre until 8 December. Book online via the theatre website, and check their directions before getting there... Judging by the number of latecomers to the performance I saw it is further away from Marylebone Station than some people think...

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