Don Gil of the Green Breeches - Arcola Theatre (Review)
Review by Shanna Schreuder
AN enjoyable feast of fast-paced fun dating from the 17th Century, Don Gil of the Green Breeches is a powerful start to the Arcola Theatre’s Spanish Golden Age Season.
Boasting a new translation by award-winning poet, broadcaster, novelist and playwright Sean O’Brien, this latest version keeps the audience closely following the complex role-reversal plot that unfolds in front of them.
After being heartlessly jilted by her lover Don Martin, Donna Juana disguises herself as a man, in green breeches, and sets out after him to Madrid. There she seeks to enact her revenge upon him by taking on the same false identity he has adopted to obtain the hand of the wealthy Donna Ines before he does.
Constantly one step ahead of him, Donna Juana quickly succeeds in winning the unsuspecting heart of Donna Ines, much to her ex-lover’s anguish.
With distinct similarities to Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, Tirso de Molina’s play not only makes the female protagonist dress up as a man to seduce another woman, but also calls upon her to frequently disguise herself as a woman to continue her conquest of Donna Ines’ trust.
Mehmet Ergen’s clever direction ensures that this constant switching of garments and adopted pseudonym works to help rather than hinder the understanding of the story.
Delivering the best of both worlds, Hedydd Dylan as Donna Juana seduces the audience by oozing as much sex appeal when playing a man as she does a woman. Unleashing an arsenal of exasperated expressions and a sharp, swift tongue, the pint-sized Katie Lightfoot as Donna Ines is a real force to be reckoned with.
Doug Rao’s Don Martin has mastered the swagger and deplorable mannerisms of a cad, while William Hoyland’s Don Pedro, one of Donna Ines’ suitors, is excellent.
This is a superbly choreographed comedy that marks an excellent start to the New Year for the Arcola.
Don Gil of the Green Breeches
From Jan 9 – March 15, 2014
Arcola Theatre, 24 Ashwin Street, Dalston, E8 3DL
Tel: 0207 503 1646