Don Juan in Soho

Theatre, Comedy
3 out of 5 stars
2 out of 5 stars
(80user reviews)
 (© Helen Maybanks)
© Helen Maybanks David Tennant (DJ)
 (© Helen Maybanks)
© Helen Maybanks David Tennant (DJ)
 (© Helen Maybanks)
© Helen Maybanks
 (© Helen Maybanks)
© Helen Maybanks
 (© Helen Maybanks)
© Helen Maybanks Gawn Grainger (Louis)
 (© Helen Maybanks)
© Helen Maybanks Mark Ebulué (Aloysius) David Tennant (DJ) and David Jonsson (Col)
 (© Helen Maybanks)
© Helen Maybanks (l-r) Adrian Scarborough (Stan), David Tennant (DJ)

David Tennant shines in Patrick Marber's iffy story of sexual adventure in Soho

The eponymous anti-hero of Patrick Marber’s ‘Don Juan in Soho’ is a douchebag of epic proportions. But as his douchery involves being sexually irresistible, fabulously wealthy and utterly guilt free - not to mention being played by the pathologically loveable David Tennant - it’s hard to exactly hate him.

Really, then, I think my biggest problem with Marber’s revival of his own 2006 rewrite of a classic Molière farce is that I didn’t have more of a problem with it. It is clearly somewhat misogynist, but it’s a misogyny that slips down easy in a play that is in many ways light, frothy and defined by its charismatic lead.

This is constantly qualified by people telling us how hateful Don Juan (or DJ) is: most vociferous is his long-suffering valet Stan (a splendid Adrian Scarborough). But flagging up DJ's immorality doesn’t change the fact that most of the gags are about how appallingly he treats people, mostly women: in the play’s most audacious scene, he receives a blowjob from a materialistic working class lass he’s just met, while simultaneously trying to chat up a posher bride whose husband he has possibly just killed. It is funny, but it’s underpinned by some fairly rank male fantasies.

But whatever, I enjoyed it, because it's funny, because the cast is good, because you sense Marber is straining to condemn DJ, because – the previously described scene excepted – it's less a sex farce than an odd couple comedy between Tennant and Scarborough. Marber directs a brisk, amusing production and he’s updated his script judiciously: a couple of gags about Donald Trump get a big cheer. The only real technical miscalculation is a smattering of rather flaccid song and dance sequences.

Tennant is megawatt charismatic as a louche bastard who does not give one single fuck as he staggers around Soho like a crazed mix of James Bond and the 13th Duke of Wybourne. His towering charm and manic, otherworldly energy perhaps does more than anything else to let Don Juan off the hook, morally speaking, but at the same time he also makes this intensely watchable.

If you’re made of sterner moral stuff than me you may walk out in disgust at a show that kind of sort of glorifies the objectification of women, but it’s all so puppyish and giddy that I just found it easier to shut my conscience off and laugh.

Average User Rating

2.3 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:17
  • 4 star:5
  • 3 star:4
  • 2 star:11
  • 1 star:44
9 people listening
8 of 8 found helpful

Not a play to go to with your parents. Good acting from the core cast but the play itself is childish and boring. Adrian Scarborough is great. 

7 of 7 found helpful

I have seen some stinkers in my time but this one goes to the top of my list. It's smug and charmless (quite the feat when you have David Tennant in the cast) and I have no idea what those involved were thinking. Having paid £190 for two tickets to see this shambles the only people laughing are Patrick Marber and David Tennant.

6 of 6 found helpful

An embarrasment all around. Tennant's Don Juan is desperate to be loved, but he is desperately unfunny as is the rest of this limp excuse of a play.  The play couldn't settle on a tone, nor a structure so we are left with a set of rambling scenes which lead nowhere stretched out by cringe worthy dancing and singing included for no apparent reason. The set and staging would barely be acceptable in an amdram production and the supporting cast were some of the poorest I have ever seen on the West End. Adrian Scarborough tried gamely to inject life and by the end of the play even he was flagging and looked bored. Not a good sign barely a week into previews. Tennant relishes the spotlight but cannot give us any idea of who Don Juan is or what he believes. He falls back quickly on mugging and winking to the audience to try to wring out laughs, often stranding the rest of the cast. Apart from Scarborough, Tennant does not connect to, nor have chemistry with any other players and you get no sense that this is a harmonious ensemble.

I am not sure what the lowest point of the production was, either the semi improvised "right on" rant or the joyless and desultary jig at the end by the cast which serves as the curtain fall. The only ones near us who seemed to enjoy this were a group of young women who laughed hysterically and inappropriately at everything Tennant did. Otherwise the audience around me were stony faced with a few walk outs at interval. 

I can't stress how lumpen and ill formed this play is only a day away from press night. It will deserve all of the excoriation heaped on it by critics .  Quite simply one of the worst theatrical experiences I have ever had. All involved should be thoroughly ashamed to ask people to pay good money for this.

6 of 6 found helpful

agree with Samantha below. wasn't going to say anything but think should warn any Tennant fans wanting to shell out loads of money that this is a rip off. horrible all around.smug luvvie fest designed only to take money out of pockets of fans of the actor. shame on him for doing this. looking forward to this being ripped apart by critics at press night tonight. those with me similarly disgusted at how poor this was. it is things like this which give the west end a reputation as being a rip off. just not good enough. 

6 of 6 found helpful

So many things wrong with this play but its biggest failure is that it is not remotely funny. Dropping the C bomb, lewd gestures and pulling silly faces do not make a comedy. Worst theatre experience in recent memory. Would have walked out at interval if I wasn't with others. None of us enjoyed it, even my wife who is a fan of David Tennant thought him badly matched to the material. I would not recommend this to anybody. Anyone who is unsure and has tickets later in the run might like to see if they can get returns. Just awful. If I could give half a star only I would.  Positives were that I liked the phone recharge service and actor playing Stan was very funny.

6 of 6 found helpful
Staff Writer

Well, if there's ever been an example of a show being sold on its talent, it's this. David Tennant and Adrian Scarborough were the only redeeming factors of this show. The "dance" numbers were a shambles, the acting from the supporting cast was all over the place and the set was more like a university studio production than a West End show. Considering the casting, it was surprising that there was only one lone person standing during the final applause but I think that fact speaks for itself. It wasn't unwatchable but it definitely wasn't worth the money.

5 of 5 found helpful

Have to say a few walk outs at interval when I saw this. Even with fairly cheap preview seats, I resisted the temptation in the hope that things might suddenly come together after interval. While I appreciate that it is still in preview, it is clear that this production is simply not up to scratch across the board. I don't know if the fault lies mostly with Patrick Marber or David Tennant,but both should get equal criticism for such a lazy and half thought out mess. Not sure where to begin with the issues we had with the play. A lot stem from it being unsuitable for our current day and age. The sexism and gags could have been played ironically or to draw some parallels with our self absorbed 'selfie' age, but they have gone for cheap laughs and language and sex acts designed only to shock, not illustrate whatever point the play has - it isn't clear what Marber is trying to tell us. David Tennant is badly miscast and although he falls back on his innate charm to woo the audience, he lacks the swagger and danger which Rhys Ifans originally brought to the role at the Donmar back in 2006. It's a hollow performance lacking in insight and often he becomes little more than a clothes horse prancing about spraying profanities intended to shock. Fortunately Stan, played with wonderful twinkle by Adrian Scarborough almost saves the day and it is only when Tennant is with Scarborough that he begins to look comfortable in the role. The older actor however consummately wipes Tennant from the stage in their scenes together.The rest of the cast really are no more than their masks or props on which DJ can undertake lewd sex acts. 

Vanity productions can work where there is a strong match between the star and the property. Sadly in this case, David Tennant has blown a huge raspberry in taking on the role of DJ for which he seems particularly unsuited and Patrick Marber has done his star no favours by stranding him in this overwrought but ultimately pedestrian production. I imagine pre-sales are strong enough that this won't fold before the end of the run, but I would add my voice to warn intending theatre goers to not waste their money on this when there are so many truly good productions currently on show. I feel sorry for Tennant that his return to the London stage has been as part of this half baked play.

4 of 4 found helpful

Dire. Boring, unfunny, incredibly shallow. A half decent - yet trite - monologue about hypocrisy and a couple of jokes about Trump do not make this mess relevant. It completely relies on Tennant, who's charming (kinda of) and energetic, but there is not much else. Compare it to Everyman (National Theatre, 2015) and you get my point.

For once I am really happy I saved money and I got a very cheap seat.

4 of 4 found helpful

A truly terrible play; even the charming leads cannot save it. Why is everything these days about patriarchy, a laTrump and Farage? What happened to feminism? Since when is it entertaining to watch a man objectifying women for cheap laughs? I loved you David, and you have never let me down before, but I am disappointed and appalled. Your Casanova loved women, your Doctor saved us but your Don Juan hates us. This is a step backwards. As for the silly 'lip service' angry speech in the second half, OUCH!! I have seen many, much better,improvised productions by A level Drama students who have read a little of the Romantics and a little Camus. God help us all. Like 'Restoration' last year this is an expression of something worrying in a society that is moving slowly backwards. Theatre audiences seem to be so far behind their cinema and TV counterparts, so much less sophisticated in their tastes, and perhaps this explains recent political trends. I have the distinct impression that I am living in a dystopia, and this production has confirmed it.

4 of 4 found helpful

Just got in from seeing Don Juan In Soho. Oh dear... that was pretty bad. Tennant clearly relishes the role of Don Juan and his monologue in the second half is genuinely excoriating but there's not much getting round the fact that this is not a good play, hindered further by what seems to be undemanding direction, and try as it might to stand for some alternative in an age of hypocrisy its ideas are muddled and the delivery is just farting. The rest of the cast are nowhere near at Tennant's level - with only Adrian Scarborough holding his own with material as Don Juan's servant that feels like a sub-par One Man, Two Governors. His character is supposed to break the fourth wall but never really seems to project into the audience. I'm going to presume the fact that this play contains a lot of sexual content but is never sexy is deliberate and probably sensible given the tendency to sexism on display. But it might not be. I think it's largely sold out so you probably already know if you are going to see this or not... but not seems the better choice to me. I've never been so close to leaving during the intermission before. Oh and the dancing... was this choreographed by someone who doesn't dance? The end of play jig was limp and the cast didn't really seem to have it down yet. Not good given press night is just three days away I think. I did laugh a couple of times - there was a good impromptu joke about Trump and a bit of almost-corpsing that raised a smile. But even at a slight two-ish hours this play overstays its welcome considerably.

4 of 4 found helpful

awful play. can't believe Marber wrote this. Tennant does his best and the audience love him but it's not enough. Very disappointing

3 of 3 found helpful

Jemma. Yr review is almost exactly how I feel. Normally I wouldn't come to a site to complain about a play I didn't like but the whole experience makes me feel as though I have been involved in something sleazy and nasty and has made me quite angry. I can see from here many others had the same reaction. Certainly at Friday evening's performance there were plenty of dissatisfied, underwhelmed or downright disgusted audience members happy to be vocal with their complaints.

This is not a play but a cynical money making enterprise designed to screw cash out of theatre goers off the back of a popular actor's name. I am not so kind to give the benefit of the doubt to Tennant. He chose to do this and the contempt for the audience in the lazy shouty acting shows this is very much a clear eyed decision.. The play has no structure, no point of view, the acting including from Tennant is rankly poor, the musical interludes are an unintentionally hilarious afterthought to break up the monotony and the tone is sniggeringly sexist and offensive, the satire is infantile in its pretentions. Some people around me were laughing but goodness knows at what. Kudos for critics willing to state their objections to this mess and give it the 1 or 2 stars at best it deserves. Their shuddering disgust and revulsion is palpable. Why bother with flesh and blood actresses in this?  Make even bigger profits by using blow up sex toys. Won't make any difference to the emotional resonance. The sycophantic critics giving this production praise probably don't want to rock the boat, look uncool or upset their editors hoping to tee up something with the star down the track.

Sorry for the rant but I feel cleaner washing away the sleaze of this show. No, I am not a sour faced prude. I know the Moliere play but had expected a sharp satire or a steely eyed reinvention, filfthy language, sexual innuendo and all.  At these prices I do expect to be given a show that has been put together with intentions to entertain, not solely to make money.

3 of 3 found helpful

The 17th Century version of this play closed, after only one performance, because of its repulsive and offensive nature. It was not shown in an uncensored form again for almost 150 years. Marber updates the setting to 21st Century Soho, but stays remarkably faithful to the original story.

It is shocking, ribald, offensive but that is the point. David Tennant is very good as the debauched libertine, who is patronising, misogynistic and self serving. Adrian Scarborough is fantastic as Stan, his forgiving manservant, who is just as taken is by his master's guile as any of the women he seduces. Together they make a fantastic double act, funny and argumentative, but collusive and occasionally tender. Their duet to close the first act was brilliant.

The script is witty and current, the use of music is good. It is a most enjoyable show and very close to Leicester Square, so the perfect start to a night of revelry in Soho.

3 of 3 found helpful

Truly terrible play.  

What are the important elements of Don Juan?  Surely a play is about making the audience feel and/or think.  Don Juan should perhaps make us question ourselves.  He definitely ought to be charming and alluring, irresistible. DJ Is not.  Perhaps Don Juan should also be unquestionably terrible and so we must reconcile the conflict between our own notions of morality and our feelings towards this man.  Does the play address this?  No.

What of any story?  Surely a story should at best be about characters with some depth, but at the least be entertaining.  Don Juan in Soho feels like a time machine to 50 years ago or something.  The characters start and end with what they do and say on stage - there is nothing more than that to think about.  And that's just the men.  The women may as well be blow up dolls for all they matter to the play and for all they contain inside their poor, feminine heads.  

The play is at times offensive, which isn't a bad thing in itself - if you use material to make a point, use any material you like, but when you use incessant racism and sexism just in the hope of cheap laughs in material that is not remotely amusing, it is cringeworthy.  David Tennant is a great actor and he can do sexy (I've seen Casanova) but here he is high on energy, but mostly I just felt unsure whether to feel sorry for him, trapped in this play for months or angry that he'd be fine with doing so dire a play that people are paying a great deal of money to see.

For me, none of the rest of the cast were anything special either.  Some of them, particularly bad.  But they'd struggle to be impressive, given what they have to work with.

This play just isn't funny or entertaining.  It is boring at best and at worst it is cringeworthy, misogynistic and skin-crawling.  Even the big rants it has at the world seem hypocritical and utterly irrelevant to the play: more like the playwright inserting his own rants in order to supposedly make the material *current*.

The most confusing aspect for me was that fact that a great number of people around me did laugh, and did laugh a lot.  And as far as I have seen the production has gotten more positive than negative reviews from critics.  I can only imagine the famous name in the cast and their desire to keep him and his fans on their good side have blinded people and they're imagining Don Juan in Soho is dressed in sumptuous velvet when in reality this play is stark naked underneath red lights.

3 of 3 found helpful

I enjoyed the play and although it is not the best play I have seen this year it was still enjoyable and funny in places. The audience around us seemed to be in hysterics and I certainly didn't notice any forced laughs or walkouts mention by other reviewers. I also thought the acting was good and a play about a womaniser is never going to be particularly PC. If your the type of person to be offended by such things then maybe the play isn't going to be for you.

3 of 3 found helpful

Very weak. Play tries to be profound but just comes off as vacuous. Laughs are forced. Fortunately it is fairly short but the lack of dramatic momentum means it felt very long. Tennant is no more than ok and out of his depth on stage. What he lacks in ability, he does make up for in energy. Scarborough is tremendous but wasted in this. An early candidate for worst of 2017. I sincerely doubt there will be anything to challenge it.

3 of 3 found helpful

Do you love sexism on an industrial scale?
Are you a straight male who feels their birth right to overpower, sexualise and belittle women needs replenishing?
Do you enjoy joining with your fellow audience members in a chuckle and a chortle as a girl is sexually assaulted on stage?

Well then, have THEY got a play for YOU!

My first issue begins with the point. What was the point?
Was it supposed to be purely entertainment for the rich straight man and did the director forget that other people come to the theatre? The audience laughed along with scenes of racism and sexual assault and it was very sad to see the show facilitated this.  Maybe it’s because at £85 average a ticket, you have an audience who are familiar with the notion of tempting a woman into sex with their money, and who can throw abuse at homeless people because they can afford it.

2017 has no place for pieces about sexuality that are seen through the male gaze. Amazingly, the main character who is a sex addict and thinks only of sex, wasn’t sexualised at all! Again, it is only the women in their underwear, as the lay about the stage. (Even though Don Juan traditionally slept with people of any gender) It shows women as easy targets and most of their characters had no substance.  And if this was an attempt at satire, it was unsuccessful.

The sexualisation of women in a man’s world has been done 1 million times and if you want to get the same experience you can watch 50 shades of Grey. You will get the same sad and unfulfilled feeling as you would if you watched this.

Truly the only point of the play was to put famous actors on stage to make money.

Is it progressive? No
Is it entertaining? No
Was it so awful you felt sorry for the actors? Yes (The acting was amazing considering)

I am glad I brought the standing tickets.

2 of 2 found helpful

Suffered this monstrosity courtesy of wife's tickets - she is a Tennant fan. What a load of complete cobblers. Sad, tired, not funny or sexy and very old fashioned. The sight of Tennant in his red scanties thrusting his pelvis is not something you want to see on a full stomach. Wife enjoyed seeing Tennant in the flesh but even she admitted later that he was a right old ham. The fella playing Stan is the only reason to see this. Fortunately it is short so you can get the tube home with ease. Ghastly with knobs on. Can't chose zero stars but Missus seems to be cured of her admiration of Mr Tennant and his sonic as a result of suffering through this tonight, so make that one star from me.

2 of 2 found helpful

Compensating much Dave? Facepalmingly awful. Adrian Scarborough twinkles nicely but the leading man is a vaccuum of ego.  Spare a though that poor Scarborough has to gamely trot out every night to perform this garbage for another two months, unless it closes shop early which is looking more and more likely as reviews come out. I didn't mind the set but agree direction is all over the place.

2 of 2 found helpful

Written and acted by middle aged men with a juvenile view of sexuality.  Puerile nonsense that has the wit of school boys sniggering over an old copy of Playboy. The unfunny dialogue and unsexy staging was underlined by David Tennant's ferocious mugging and misguided attempt to convey youthful ardour by prancing around like a elderly meerkat on steroids. Not really sure who this play is supposed to appeal to (other middle aged men concerned about their libido or Gogglebox viewers who like to see blokes off the telly?).  Couple of walk outs at interval and very little unforced laughter from the audience. Still, buyer's remorse. Tennant can be very good or very, very bad, depending on the material and how tightly he is directed to keep his tendency towards hamminess at bay. Completely the wrong material for him and the hand of the director/playwright is nowhere to be seen in the production as it is much too self indulgent and unfocused.

2 of 2 found helpful

Dire on every level. I can't understand how this is getting *any* positive reviews. I just can't be bothered listing how this awful amateurish tosh fails. Read The Stage or The Express reviews. Both are absolutely spot on. David Tennant's career deserves to take a huge knock after this ill advised cringefest. 

2 of 2 found helpful

Two stars for effort. David Tennant needs a rethink for future projects.

2 of 2 found helpful

Putrid, offensive, unfunny, skeevy and vilely sexist. Normally I wouldn't review something about which I don't have anything positive to say,  but I will join in warning away anybody considering going to this play based on the one or two mostly positive reviews. Even if watching David Tennant leer and grope actresses half his age is your idea of a good time, you will be hard pressed finding anything remotely funny in this. The worst aspect is the outrageous prices for most seats. This deserves the panning it is getting from critics. I can only guess David Tennant took this part for the easy money and as a sop to his vanity as he hits middle aged. I went on Monday and there were a number around me who left at interval. The people in neighbouring seats commented that they would have also left but knew they only had to endure another 40 minutes or so. 

2 of 2 found helpful

Fantastic acting from the two leads, but the script is weak (all the female characters are entirely one-dimensional, the narrative structure is all over the place, and the script lurches tonally) and the directing amateurish and reliant on stage school cliches. Marber doesn't seem to know what he wants from the play - a few half-hearted attempts to establish the character's dark moral core are quickly thrown away in favour of cheap gags and disco. 

A lazy, facile production. wonderful acting lost by Marber's choice to exploit his lead's celebrity and fangirl-bait by choosing cheap gags, over any attempt at real insight.

2 of 2 found helpful

A middle aged male fantasy where beautiful young women fall over themselves to fondle the scrawny body of a serial abuser. Yes, welcome to the West End of 2017. Agree entirely with Mark Shenton in The Stage. Skin crawlingly creepy, voyeuristic and misogynistic.  

2 of 2 found helpful

Press nights, eh? Always a blast. Mark Shenton's succinct review in The Stage says everything you need to know about this grotty grimly unfunny mongrel of a play.  Fools and their money are easily parted and Messrs Marber and Tennant will be lining their pockets happily and like DJ himself will feel no shame in hoodwinking the guillable. If you have been fooled into buying tickets, perhaps gift them to your elderly auntie who likes that nice Doctor Who man from the tele. If you end up going, the good news is that it is over pretty quickly and time to get home for a nice hot cup of tea. That at least should provide some erotic pleasure for your evening.

One star in terms of writing, acting and directing but in the spirit of generosity and the diversion it provided, giving this two stars for good celeb spotting tonight. I can say I was not alone in looking frequently at the time on my phone in the second half and not raising so much as a chuckle throughout!

2 of 2 found helpful

Cringeworthy and so desperately unfunny that a woman in the audience felt compelled to loudly ask her other theatregoers why they were laughing. This is sexual slapstick without the humour and about as erotic as watching a rugger bugger with a stripper in a pub. David Tennant appeared awkward and out of kilter, the other cast members disinterested in him or uninteresting to us. Afraid we left the interval, relieved we had at least enjoyed a great supper at The Barbary before the torture commenced.

2 of 2 found helpful

Appalling. The play is a dinosaur which may have raised a few chuckles 10 years ago but is clunky and cringe inducing and resolutely unfunny. The staging is muddled with an unnecessary song and dance scene which will have you suffering second hand embarrasment on behalf of the actors. Adrian Scarborough tries valiantly to save this Titanic vanity project, but this is only for determined fans of Tennant who don't want to attend a coherent piece of theatre but are happy to ogle his various states of dress and undress. Certainly this will be scoring a good load of half and one star reviews from theatre critics. I shudder to think how Shenton, Clapp and good old Andrzej will rip this to pieces but it will be a damned sight more amusing and entertaining than this pile of dung. I would suggest anybody with a ticket who was expecting a piece of theatre rather than the infantile and tedious showboating of la Tennant, try to offload them quickly before preview night and reviews. Biggest bomb on the West End for quite some time. Half star for Scarborough. 

3 of 4 found helpful

Awful. I suspect Tennant was straight on the blower to Greg Doran this morning to try and get himself a decent play with the RSC to wash away the filthy residue this absolute stinker will tarnish his theatre career with.

They are lucky Tennant's devotees will have already bought tickets for this rubbish as soon as they went on sale otherwise I'd say we'd be looking at an early closure.

3 of 4 found helpful

Absolutely dire. Sexist, sleazy and not in the least bit funny. If you like to see women objectified and touched up on stage by an actor old enough to be their pervy uncle then this is the play for you.

Tennant had no swagger and came across as a creep with no redeemable features. The song and dance numbers are painful to see and the "jokes" offensive. I cringed throughout. I feel for Tennant as he is a good actor and well above this awful horror of a show. If I could give no stars I would. Stick to the Shakespeare Mr T.

1 of 1 found helpful

Would have given this two stars as there are a few chuckles to be had and Stan (Adrian Scarborough) is excellent and completely steals the show, but the behaviour of the audience was so obnoxious I am going to mark this down to one star. I imagine when a TV star turns up for live theatre, you can expect some silliness and squealing but there was incessant and undeserved braying laughter whenever their TV idol did so much as scratch his balls, screeching and talking throughout the performance and many instances of ushers having to issue warnings about cameras. Perhaps I was unlucky to sit in a group of particularly rude novice theatre goers but I found it highly disrespectful to the actors and production team. It's a pretty poor production but that doesn't mean the audience should behave so badly. Their idol played up to them unfortunately and reduced what could have been a half decent performance into a series of mugging asides, wildly over the top gestures and phlegm filled shouts. I cringed for the rest of the cast who were abandoned in favour of this showboating. Very unprofessional all around. A highly disappointing and miserable night out for husband and self.

1 of 1 found helpful

Unfunny sh*te. Definitely the worst thing in the West End at the moment. Tennant embarrasses himself.

1 of 1 found helpful

Popping in to confirm this play is as grotesqely bad as reviewers have painted it. A failure on every level with only Adrian Scarborough escaping with any dignity intact. I think this will remain the benchmark for failed actor vanity projects and cloth headed stupidity for many a year. I never leave productions at interval, but this is the first time I was sorely tempted. Stinker of the year.

1 of 1 found helpful

Vying with The Philanthropist at Trafalgar for the most unwanted and unnecessary revival of the year. Sadly, this production just shades Philanthropist as what must be the very worst thing on at the West End at the moment. Brutally unfunny, hide your head in your hands levels of acting awfulness, even from the lead David Tennant and no discernable plot, wit or even the self awareness to have a laugh at itself. To be honest I would advise Tennant fans against going as it is uncomfortable to see him reduced to metaphorical and literal whoring of himself onstage. To quote Donald Trump, "SAD".

1 of 1 found helpful

Awful. Smug. Unfunny. Deeply sexist. Tone deaf to the world we live in. Poorly staged. Poorly acted in general. Padded beyond belief. Dull. Sad to see an actor of Tennant's potential frittering away yet another part to bask in the uncritical adulation of adolescent fandom.

1 of 1 found helpful

Not surprised at the volume of negative comments. I got a free ticket last night from friend who couldn't go at last minute, otherwise I doubt I would have attended. Not my cup of tea but a couple reviews were fairly positive and David Tennant can be tolerable when given a good script. Oh deary me. How much did those reviewers get paid?  Let me echo all the things wrong with this production already covered more eloquently below: rampant and uncomfortable levels of sexism, really creepy skin crawling bits between David Tennant's DJ and young actresses playing the objects of his lust, no genuine laughs, embarrassing musical bits added on for no real reason, no actual plot, no actual ending, nothing remotely sexy unless you find Tennant's pale chicken legs and skin and bones body a turn on, shoehorned in blather by David Tennant about the wrongs of the world, constant mugging by him and most of the cast and an ill behaved audience. It's a complete shambles from go to woah. Yes, Adrian Scarborough is good but that isn't sufficient to justify this ill conceived and slapdash garbage. Worst piece of "theatre" I have seen in years. Thank God I didn't pay.

1 of 1 found helpful

Very poorly written play I thought and really didn't work. The musical numbers did feel like padding and some of the material is uncomfortable to watch. Seems it wants to have its cake and eat it too by including deliberately provocative sexist material and then having DJ or Stan wink at the audience. Even putting aside the frankly dodgy sexism in the material, the play has no real 'purpose' and you are left with DJ being a complete blank. There was quite a bit of topical material included to allow DJ to have a rant about contemporary issues which also felt like back slapping to excuse the very distasteful parts of the play. The performances were very OTT with only Adrian Scarborough as Stan making any impression as a three dimensional character. He has excellent comic timing and would certainly look out for him in another production. David Tennant was essentially mugging to the audience for the entire time and didn't have any nuance or distinctiveness in his performance. Very disappointing to see such a lazy approach to the part, but again, that may also reflect the poor writing and lack of focus in the direction. The other parts were entirely indistinct with the young women only serving as flesh for DJ to leer at and fondle. If David Tennant chose this play to make his comeback in the West End he was either very ill advised or simply looking for something which would allow him to indulge in the kind of 'showboating' which also undermined his performance as Benedick in 'Much Ado About Nothing' a few years ago. For those who admired Tennant as an actor before he become famous in Doctor Who, it has been very dispiriting that he continues to choose roles to promote his fame or line his pocket, rather than challenge him or show that he is more than a whirlwind of energy and ferocious mugging. One only for the most devoted and uncritical of Tennant female fandom I am afraid and doubly disappointing given the terrible message it provides to young women about consent and submission to male sexuality.

1 of 1 found helpful

Beastly, but not in a good way like The Goat, or Who is Sylvia?. The bestial acts here are those commited upon the audience by the writing, production and most of the acting. Mr Scarborough alone manages to rise admirably above this tosh. Stan is grand, DJ is not, the rest is rot. Avoid like a foot and mouth outbreak.

1 of 1 found helpful

I think if you go in with very lowered expectations you will find a few things to divert you. Adrian Scarborough is great fun but hardly challenged by his very underwritten part but still manages to conjure lots of genuine laughs. He is the star of the piece and deserved the shouts of acclaim he got at the curtain call. Tremendous charisma and an absolute joy to watch, particularly when he is with David Tennant whom he completely overshadows. David Tennant does his usual Tennant, so a lot of jumping about excitedly, teeth baring, eye boggling, hamming things up for the crowd, shouting and over enunciating in his odd version of an English accent, so if that's your bag, you will probably enjoy his performance. Audience watching was also very good. Not many chaps in the audience and fun seeing what I take to be first time theatre goers really excited to see their idol on stage.  Empty seats due to poor-ish reviews I suspect, so there should be bargains to be had later in the run. It's very short and very forgettable, so if you can bag tickets for under 20 pounds, I think there is enough to enjoy, particularly with Scarborough, that it's worth a shout.

1 of 1 found helpful

Well that was a couple of hours I will never get back. Still unsure how or why I got tickets to this last year but must have been seeing Patrick Marber's name attached. Who on earth thought that this pile of pants was worthwhile putting on stage. Boredom set in very early and while I guess as a measure of solidarity with womankind, I should have stormed out of the play given how relentlessly sexist and leering in tone it was. Sadly reader, I was much too warm and comfy in my seat and was able to discreetly pop in my earplug and listen to Classic FM and let the action unfold without the clunky dialogue instead. Leaving the theatre at great speed as soon as it ended, I was elbow checked by a succession of young women whom I later learned were eager to get a place at the stage door to get autographs and selfies with David Tennant. Judging from their comments as we all fled from the theatre, this was to be the main objective of the evening and it looked as though many others must have left at interval or didn't even go in to the play judging by the queues.

Here's an idea. How about putting something on inside the theatre which is actually watchable and funny and just have David Tennant or whichever television heartthrob is currently "hawt" in a pen signing autographs and having selfies taken outside the theatre at 150 quid a pop. Then genuine theatre lovers could enjoy a play and those only wanting to hunt down celebrities could get their photo or autograph. Everyone happy and money is made so that the theatre can then charge less for the actual play. Sorted!

Maybe not the worst thing on the London stage this year as many of you are claiming, but I would say the most boring and offensive. .Hard to believe producers still think putting on prehistoric sexist rubbish is fine. What next, It Ain't Half Hot Mum with blackface?

1 of 1 found helpful

Most of the jokes fall flat, there is no depth to David Tennant's overly clownish and one note portrayal and the musical numbers are bizarre and amateurish. A weird experience all round as about 90% of the thing completely misses the mark. I think this would have folded in a couple of weeks if not for the star casting. Just can't see how anyone could honestly say they enjoyed this. 

1 of 2 found helpful

If there are any first time theatre goers out there keen to see their television idol on stage, might I humbly suggest Andrew Scott in Hamlet as an alernative. That is a genuine 5 star production with Scott's Hamlet being praised as the greatest of his generation. Further, it is an ensemble company and has been in gestation for many months, not a cobbled together at the last minute actor-led vanity piece as DJiS clearly is. While Scott is superb, the rest of the company is fantastic and the production is inventive and thrilling. Scott and the producers have insisted that ticket prices remain accessible to younger theatre goers so you won't find the kind greedy gouging going on at DJiS where tickets are £150 a pop. Scott is also more than happy to appear at the stage door. The best news is that the production is moving to the West End in June so more people can enjoy this magnificent production at an affordable price. You also get to see two wonderful actresses, Juliet Stevenson and Jessica Findlay Brown, playing fully developed female characters, rather than a succession of young women being humiliated and sexually exploited in DJiS. For the shallow fangirls, I can confirm that Andrew Scott is gorgeous up close.

Avoid this rip off and treat yourself to the kind of theatrical experience which may lead to a lifetime love of theatre.

1 of 2 found helpful

I really enjoyed it. Would I have enjoyed it as much if D.T. hadn't been the star ??? Probably not. But he was, so I did. It was "different" & probably not " PC"  in 2017 but it was funny and if Political Correctness has resulted in May being in Number 10 & Trump in the White House then this adaptation at least made me & my friend laugh.This was theatre & at a time when the real world seems to be politically going "nuts" it was a welcome piece of entertainment. Adrian Scarborough was very good & the rest of the cast were enthusiastic. Last year I saw D.T. in Richard II at the Barbican & he was fantastic. This was totally "the unknown" to me, but I loved this just as well.


I feel like I watched an entirely different show to many of the reviewers below. I loved the staging, I loved the rest of the cast, and above all else I adored Tennant. David Tennant's performance was one of the greatest performances I've ever seen. He is incredibly watchable, just exuding a lascivious energy and charisma. He moves so fluidly, in one stop launching himself onto one or other pieces of the set or cast members. It is knowing in it's language, one soloiquay by Tenant as Don Juan railing against everything from instagram to Trump and Theresa May was glorious and had the crowd eating from the palm of his hand. 

It's rude and crude but i've seen ruder and cruder, and I didn't think it took anything away from the joy of the entire show. I nabbed cheap standing tickets at the back and barely noticed the time going by (not a small feat standing at the back of a packed theatre on a hot day). 


This version of Don Juan is not my cup of tea - a bit too crude & shocking in a rather schoolboy manner.

However I did find David Tennant just great, he just goes with it with such great energy, and he somehow manages to get a lot of fun out of the dubious material. Don Juan's valet played by Adrian Scarborough is wonderful, and is just a perfect partner for Tennant.

I can't wait to see the both together again (but maybe not in this version of the play).  

It's ending soon anyway, so no need to warn off anybody but it's a big bunch of 'meh'. Not as awful as the critics and bloggers seem to think, but in no way a satisfying night of theatre. As everyone mentions, Adrian Scarborough as Stan is excellent and I wonder if the production had been better whether he might have come into awards consideration. A pity because he's he only one who comes out of this with any dignity. The staging overall and the performances from the support cast, particularly the singing and dancing are really second rate. Just not acceptable for a West End production asking top lolly for tickets. 

This could have been scabrous fun and said something about the content and value free state of current society in the context of the current election, Brexit and Trumpism but unfortunately any sharpness or insight has been sacrificed on the altar of this DJ's desire to be likable. When this same play was done a few years ago, Rhys Ifans's DJ clearly didn't give a hoot about being loved by the audience. The whole thing was wicked fun and the audience felt DJ got his just desserts. By bending this version around David Tennant's desire to be liked, it has defanged the entire production. There really isn't anything positive to say about Tennant's performance apart from his energy levels. It's full of mugging and tics and overblown gestures but there is nothing of substance behind it all. 

Shout out to John Barrowman in the audience tonight. Tennant was pandering so much to them, I suspect that even the shy and retiring Barrowman would have been shocked by the shamelessness of it all! 

Patrick Marber can really do better and whether it was the impact of the casting the lead or simply laziness which doomed this from the get-go, let's hope he gets this schlock out of his system quickly and returns to providing decent and entertaining theatre.

I saw this at previews last week and from reviews and comments it appears that the fundamental and ultimately fatal problems with this production have not been addressed. The rampant sexism, dodgy song and dance numbers, rambling structure, unengaged secondary cast, central miscasting and lack of genuine laughs have all been covered sufficiently in reviews and comments. To try to take something from the ashes of this disaster, I wonder if it might have been a better approach to play up the fact that David Tennant is far too old for the title role, rather than trying to hide it by applying industrial amounts of eyeliner, and make it the story of an ageing roue whose sexual power if fading and who is spurned by the young women he approaches. This would have provided laughs and an air of melancholy as well as depth to the play. It would also have neutered the current flesh crawling creepiness of the middle aged Tennant attempting to play a virile Don Juan at the peak of his powers pawing and thrusting at such young actresses. Stan and DJ could then have spent time philosophising about their past adventures and rueing the passage of time. Anyway, just a thought! I think if you are a superfan of Tennant or someone who finds Benny Hill the height of sophisticated sex farce and can grab day seats for under 20 quid then this is probably a passable night out. For any serious theatregoer, this is a production which really shouldn't have seen the light of day. Add my vote to biggest flop of 2017.

Glad I found this site so I could vent. I have enjoyed Patrick Marber's direction of a number of productions in recent years (Three Days in the Country at The National in 2015 is one of my favourite productions) and enjoyed David Tennant some years ago in Loves Labours Lost/Hamlet at Stratford, so it was with a sense of anticipation that I bought tickets to Don Juan in Soho for myself and mother as a treat. I can honestly say that this was the worst play I have ever seen. We were among those who wished that they had the courage to leave at interval on Monday night, but thought that the play must surely get better. Spoiler - It didn't.

I am no prude (and neither is my 75 year old mother). It's fine to try to shock an audience with swearing and sexual acts, but where these are neither funny nor are integral to the play and are there purely to show how daring or grown up the play is, well then it is no more than self pleasuring for the playwright and lead man. David Tennant is sorely miscast as he lacks any sense of danger or recklessness; much  more a fluffy kitten than a leopard.  I can only guess he took the role for the guaranteed money he would get based on his celebrity. The female cast members are particularly badly served and may as well have spent the entire time wearing interchangeable masks but ultimately their role is purely to be female flesh. I found the song and dance interlude incredibly amateurish and I am guessing it was inserted to try to pad out the play and justify the ticket prices. Adrian Scarborough had some good moments as Stan and is the only member of the cast who earns any kind of positive review. Don't think I laughed once.

I certainly have lost any respect for David Tennant as an actor if he was so keen to indulge in this offensive pudding of a play for what appears to only be a clear eyed opportunity to gouge money out of his fandom. It also seems to confirm that it is best for a playwright to not direct his own work. There is no trace of the qualities we had in Hedda Gabler, Travesities and certainly not Three Days in the Country to be seen anywhere in this play. As others have said, if it wasn't for Tennant's and Marber's names attached to this, it would have folded after a couple of weeks, particularly after the scathing reviews from critics and complaints from audience members.

My mother summed it up best in her one word review of the play - "crap".

I don't usually write reviews but I was so utterly appalled by this play that I felt compelled to warn others not to part with their cash. David Tennant is hideously miscast, he lacks any chemistry with any of his co stars and it seems to me he is a big name cast purely to pull in the unsuspecting punters. He is charmless, creepy and too old to be playing opposite the young women cast as his conquests.

The play itself is tiresome and often offensive. I was constantly clock watching and yet it is short, just 90 minutes excluding the interval, any longer and I'd have joined a number of my fellow theatre goers who walked.

Got to be a contender for worst play of the year. Tennant certainly won't be winning any awards with this turkey.

Show More