“There is no longer any shame in hypocrisy; it is a fashionable vice, and all fashionable vices pass for virtue… hypocrisy is a privileged vice which closes the mouth of everyone, and enjoys in peace a sovereign impunity.”
The play Dom Juan or The Feast of Stone written by Molière was published in 1665.
A classical work, the play – quite controversial for its time – focuses on Dom Juan, a complex and ambiguous character. He manipulates his world with zero remorse, especially his manservant, Sganarelle (Marcelo Arroyo), with whom he has a relationship of dominance.
The play follows the last two days in the life of young courtier, Dom Juan Tenorio (Pierre Simpson), a libertine, a seducer of women, and an atheist. The play consists of 5 acts to explain Dom Juan’s personality. In act 1, he is shown to be an adulterer; in act 2, we come to know his womanizing ways. In act 3, he is shown to be a nonconformist with some unselfish tendencies. In act 4, however, we learn of his problems with money and the issues he has with his father. In the last act, he pretends to undergo a religious rebirth which sadly does not save him.
Dom Juan is a very interesting and challenging play. As I am not a francophone, I relied heavily on the surtitles for this show more than others. It is dialogue heavy, but very interesting nonetheless. There are various satirical aspects of the play, which in my opinion, were written to make the audience think and critique the piece. Themes discussed in the play include religion, seduction, sexual power differential, hypocrisy. I certainly found myself with many questions about morality, religion, and much more during and post show.
Director Joël Beddows and production team chose to have the actors change into their respective characters to the side of the stage. Four of the five actors play various roles, showcasing their abilities to embody more than one character. Pierre Simpson as Dom Juan, gets better in the role as the play progresses. He embodies Dom Juan’s complexity fairly well.
I thought it good to see the actors on the sidelines laughing at some of the lines recited by others on-stage. It looked like they were enjoying themselves as well. From a technical standpoint, the show‘s simple production design works effectively to create various spaces with minimal props.
Overall, I enjoyed Dom Juan, the play. My one critique would be the length of the show. At 1hr45min with no intermission, I found it to be a bit onerous for the audience and actors. Whether a French speaker or not, I would suggest challenging yourself to see Dom Juan. Although the dialogue is indicative of its time, its themes are still relevant to us today.
Dom Juan continues at Berkeley St. Theatre (Upstairs) until May 18th, 2017. In French (with English surtitles); surtitled performances Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. For show times and tickets, visit theatrefrancais.com.
Photos: Marc LeMyre.