Marber’s dirty Don Juan is no Donald
Don Juan In Soho Wyndham’s Theatre ★★★✩✩
PATRICK MARBER has made some notable amendments to his Don Juan since it was first seen in 2006. With David Tennant playing the serial seducer, he is still a sex-obsessed pleasure seeker: a bedder of women of every creed and country; a oneman epidemic whose conquests are made with all the efficiency and affection of a sexually transmitted disease; a self-declared “three-a-day man” who isn’t just talking about the number of times he does it but the number of women he does it with.
But “I’m no rapist,” he says earnestly, before adding “I don’t grab pussy,” thus confessing that even though his moral compass may not exactly point north, when it comes to bad behaviour this Don is no Donald. It’s the kind of line that brings Marber’s update of Molière’s play right into the now.
Tennant’s dissolute “DJ” is a lot of fun. Attended with affected disapproval by Adrian Scarborough’s portly valet Stan, this gangly sex addict turns hedonism from a lifestyle choice into a vocation.
And when challenged about his choices, Marber — who also directs — has armed his anti-hero with speeches that drip with contempt for his critics and their notion that they represent a better kind of human, or that they know how to live better than he.
Typically for Marber the language packs punch and is simultaneously lyrical and right off the street. Yet his vision for his own play is more star vehicle than genuine drama, while Tennant is brimful of charisma but lacks the charm of a consummate seducer.
And although the intention is to deliver a Don Juan for our time, this is an age in which classic male roles are increasingly being taken on by women, and I’d love to see how modern Marber’s Don would be if his Juan were a Juanita.