pancho and don

Rufus Hound as Sancho Panza and David Threlfall as Don Quixote.

Don Quixote

The Swan Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon

*****

IN AN adventure filled comedy, thick with colourful scenes and larger than life characters, David Threlfall and Rufus Hound shine in James Fenton’s adaptation of Miguel De Cervantes’ classic novel about the eccentric nobleman and his squire.

The landmark Spanish novel was adapted beautifully for the RSC Swan stage. Fenton did a marvellous job at capturing the essence of a man who, in his old age, has an obsession with chivalry and the world of knights within his imagination to the point of delusion.

David Threlfall imbues the complex and sincere Don Quixote with impressive charm and shows us a lonely man whose purpose is to help the world by showing them the right way to be chivalrous.

Watching Threlfall perform, it is hard to remember that this is the same actor who played Frank Gallagher in Tony Abbott’s Shameless. He is a breath of fresh air in the role, taking on the challenge and assureing the audience that we are in safe hands.

Quixote is an individual who nothing will stop from having the adventures he sees fitting for a knight of his stature and Threlfall has captured not only a hugely comic and charming character, but has laced his portrayal with a beautiful empathetic manner so the audience are always on his side, even when the rest of the characters are not.

What is a brave knight without a squire? In Don Quixote’s eyes, a knight of his calibre must have a squire and this is where Rufus Hound makes his mark. Dressed in an impressive fat suit, Hound captures the part of Sancho Panza with an unforgettable quality. He is incredibly funny from the get go, but what makes Hound’s performance remarkable lies within his ability to add to the highly emotionally charged scenes with fantastic accord, making the audience react with sincere compassion. He includes the audience in his performance as much as possible, and with Hound’s background of stand-up comedy, this does not go amiss and adds another layer onto his cheeky persona.

Don Quixote is a comedy, but it becomes much more because director Angus Jackson has made sure not to skim over the sentimental scenes, giving them the weight and emotional quality they deserve. The ending is particularly moving and it was easy to hear a few sniffles coming from the audience. This shows just how strong Threlfall and Hound are as a pair. Their individual performances are delightful to watch, but together, they instil a new life into the story.

Their performances are helped along wonderfully with the work of the ensemble. This is very much a collaborative piece and each member of the company adds to the comedic tale in equal measure. They are committed to giving us pure entertainment and joy and their enthusiasm for the production is clear to see. There is beautiful choral singing and the music and songs by Fenton and Grant Olding set the atmosphere of each scene.

Puppetry is also a strong feature in this production. The skills of the actors who work the puppets are impressive vividly capturing the audience’s imagination. There are children, cats and a huge roaring lion involved that added another awesome layer to the show.

As well as fantastic props, the set was equally impressive. In a scene where Don Quixote is convinced that a set of windmills are in fact giants, we see Threlfall literally fly up, getting caught on the huge mill.

Jackson’s take on the classic novel is a brilliant piece of entertainment. What makes this production so impressive is that he does not forget any detail. From the talent of the actors to the colourful additions of set props and costumes, Jackson and the cast highlight the comedic essence of the story and bring out the charm of Don Quixote, leading to an experience of pure delight. To 21-05-16

Elizabeth Halpin

28-03-16 

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