Don Juan
Reviewed by David Kashimba
Photo by Steven Underwood

Moliere’s Don Juan, as performed by Marin Shakespeare Theatre, is more like Dickens’ A Christmas Carol then the story of one of the first great lovers depicted in literature and drama. The main difference is when the ghost comes to Don Juan (Rudy Guerrero) to try to help him to mend his evil philandering ways; he doesn’t repent and change to a good man as the miserly Scrooge did. Don Juan continues to be the same selfish self-centered man he has always been.

Of course he is punished for his evil ways, but nobody really cares that much about Don Juan because he’s really not the main character. The star of this dark comedy is, as in A Man For All Seasons, a common man. Sganarelle, played by Thomas Lynch, is Don Juan’s manservant and the moral voice of the entire drama. The play opens and closes with Sganarelle’s down to earth moral view of life. There’s nothing preachy about him. He has a very simple view of good and evil which endears him to the audience, and like most of us, he’s quick to change his view in order to preserve his own life. But the audience never doubts the core of his humanity and only laughs lovingly at his comic attempts to save his own neck.

A fine performance by Lynch makes this dark comedy work. Also Darren Bridgett as Pierrot, one of the men Don Juan steels a woman from, gives a great performance, defining love to its comic primal essence. In addition, director Robert W. Goldsby with Angela Paton has provided a modern English translation of the play that is easy to follow.

Don Juan is just another pretty face, and his selfish nature soon bores the audience. But when we realize that Don Juan is merely a foil for Sganarelle’s comic realism, we become very interested in this common man’s warped wisdom.

For tickets or more information on how to get to this outdoor theatre, located at Dominican University in San Rafael, call (415) 499-4488 or visit www.marinshakespeare.org.

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