Magazine article The Spectator

Theatre: Don Juan in Soho; the Wipers Times

Magazine article The Spectator

Theatre: Don Juan in Soho; the Wipers Times

Article excerpt

Don Juan in Soho rehashes an old Spanish yarn about a sexual glutton ruined by his appetite. Setting the story in modern London puts a strain on today's play-goer, who tends to regard excessive promiscuity as a disease rather than a glamorous adventure. And the central character, a vulgar aristocrat named DJ who grades everyone on a scale of 'fuckability', contravenes the sentimental egalitarianism of our current sexual code.

Writer Patrick Marber offers us a version of London where the social structure of the Regency still endures. Educated Englishmen are the only fully evolved human beings. Beneath them swarms an amusing underclass of thick, greedy motormouths from whom the Englishman must recruit his prostitutes and servants. A lucky underling may, after prolonged contact with the Englishman, rise to membership of his circle on a semi-permanent basis. This is how Stan, (Adrian Scarborough) became the manservant of DJ (David Tennant). Scarborough is excellent, as always, but the role of buddy hardly stretches him. His portly physique persuades casting directors to see him as a bumbling clown but he has real substance on stage and a hard-to-read face with powerful hints of villainy. Iago is a role he could make his own. As for Tennant, he's simply magical. He has some special access to the human heart whose sources are impossible to detect. Thanks to his extraordinary warmth and openness the seedy groper, DJ, becomes an amiable charlatan.

Suiting his performance to the script, Tennant gives a debonair, weightless reading, more a catwalk strut than a dramatic study, which gratifies and melts in the same instant, like a sliver of marzipan on the tongue. Marber's script has lots of jokes, good and bad. Stan says his master's libido is so overdeveloped that he would happily copulate with 'the hole in the ozone layer'. But a character composed entirely of self-indulgence is bound to select language with the same failing. 'I'm the Desmond Tutu of titillation,' gloats DJ, 'the Gandhi of the gang-bang.' Alliteration apart, what facet of Gandhi suggests gang-bangs? And to associate Tutu with titillation is a flashy ingenuity without any wider resonance.

The plot concerns the aftermath of DJ's divorce from a gullible teenager. The poor girl seems to have overlooked her beloved's bed-hopping reputation and married him in the hope of finding romantic contentment with a man who gave up counting his conquests when the total exceeded 25,000. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.