Theater archives

Don Juan


Molière may forever be the property of the Comédie Française, but the cheekily named National Theater of the United States of America (by no means under state patronage) makes a fair go at his Don Juan. Their streamlined, thrift-shop-budget staging, though only an hour long, remains faithful to the French iconoclast’s dark comic vision. In fact, the relative lack of overt subversion or postmodern tinkering disappoints in the first half—the insincere, jokey acting isn’t much more exaggerated than the average, lame “traditional” production. But NTUSA’s unique brand of goofy-glam theatrics—a mix of Mel Brooks genre parody with Richard Foreman funhouse aesthetics—ultimately pays off, especially in their hyper–Grand Guignol embrace of the spooky finale. As the titular libertine, Yehuda Duenyas commands the tiny basement space with a sensuality so in-your-face (the audience sits on low-rise stools in the center) that the glitter of his makeup may just spill into your complimentary wine. Which you’ll probably lose to a spit-take anyway at the sight of the Don making love to a sexy, disembodied mannequin leg.