Mar­ber’s dirty Don Juan is no Don­ald

The Jewish Chronicle - - LIFE - JOHN NATHAN

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.

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