by Anna Glynn.
Tour to 16 May 2015.
Runs 2hr One interval.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 5 May at Mumford Theatre Cambridge.
Swinging evening about a dodgy knight.
Crazy as he was, Miguel de Cervantes was benevolent towards his deluded Don Quixote. It wasn’t the old man at fault, but the romances that made him see chivalric entities where there were merely everyday people and things. Recruiting local farmer Sancho Panza as his squire, Quixote may put the errant into knight errantry, but he’s a well-intentioned gentleman, loved by those who know him. This provides a warmth and sadness which enrich Cervantes’ long novel and which are shared by Anna Glynn’s deeply comic play.
These qualities come too, through Robin Colyer’s finely-nuanced production, and its energetic, flexible quartet of players creating comedy, and moments of hilarity. Whether it’s Jeremy Barlow and Francesca Binefa’s benign, very middle-class, hoodies, whose help is better appreciated by Don Q than his companion, or Kate Colebrook’s doddering librarian, stumbling behind a mountain of books, and barely recognisable as the person playing the Don’s energetically hopeful sidekick, Sam, Flintlock Theatre’s cast are ever-ready for each scene, helped by unobtrusive shifting of the minimal staging.
This is not Don Quixote himself, but Norman Vaughan, who discovers a renewed lease of life in modern days thanks to library books and takes after Cervantes’ unlikely hero. The library may be the instrument of his delusions, but it’s also valued as a source of literature (threatened with closure of course).
There may be no windmills in Don Q’s mind, but there’s an audience to be involved in the action (the piece is aimed at 10-110, which is about right). Samuel Davies dives-in, chin first, assured facial expression following, to any adventure; whatever understanding’s lacking, there no deficiency on the bravery front.
Ultimately, age tells and in a quiet consummation tribute is paid, with symbols of knightly obsession – including the colander Don Q had taken for a helmet – piled on his chair. Finally, crowning the tributary pinnacle is the source of all; his battered paperback copy of Cervantes’ novel. In this end is a tribute to the humanity, energy and passion the Spanish writer encapsulated.
A melancholy moment, it leaves you wanting to cheer life, literature – and Flintlock Theatre.
Nephew/Doctor/Hoody/Bev: Jeremy Barlow.
Doctor/Carmen/Julie/Hoody: Francesca Binefa.
Sam: Kate Colebrook.
Norman: Samuel Davies.
Director/Designer: Robin Colyer.
Lighting: William Alder.