Shannon Maddox and Frank Blocker
photo: Ralph Lewis

Don Quixote may have galloped off into a dreamworld, but you are likely to wander in a fog through In Praise of Folly, Peculiar Works Project's rambling site-specific interpretation of the Cervantes classic. As you schlep from room to room on an empty floor of a Tribeca office building, "tour guides" read bits of the novel, both to clue you in and to create a unified journey. It's not enough. Only a Cervantes scholar—and maybe not even she—could make sense of the more than 15 theater, dance, and multimedia pieces that re-create selected episodes. Some, like the Duke and Duchess's court set at a McDonald's, are obvious but silly. Others, like a mélange of the Marcela, Maritornes, and Dorotea sequences are evocatively performed but baffling. A few, however, manage to stand up on their own. "Between the Books," for example, a skit on literary rivalry between Quixote and Sancho, bristles with funny pop-cult allusions. "Stealing Pears," which portrays the Don's last fever dream in an airy room strewn with straw and hung with wafting veils, exemplifies what's best and worst here: Sensuously staged, it teems with visions but frustrates understanding. Despite everything, though, Peculiar Works deserves praise for nobly striving to re-inspirit this seminal work—and, to its credit, nobody sings "The Impossible Dream."

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