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It’s one of the best-known and trickiest books in the history of literature, featuring one of the maddest characters who goes on the oddest of adventures. It’s also very long and very complex. So, you could say, that the decision to stage Miguel de Cervantes’s seventeenth-century novel ‘The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha’ should not be taken lightly.
Thankfully, taking it lightly is exactly what Little Soldier Productions have done with their hilariously dirty adaptation of this hulking classic. Their show is not that clever, it doesn’t cover a fraction of the book and it ignores many of its themes. But it’s so much fun to watch.
Performed by Stephen Harper, Patricia Rodriquez and Merce Ribot, the piece is a meta-theatrical clowning mash-up of parts of the book. The performers introduce us to Don Quixote, the self-proclaimed knight of La Mancha, who decides one day to dive into the world of chivalry with his trusty squire Sancho Panza.
Then the performers introduce themselves. With humour and lashings of slapstick physical comedy they fall about the stage, cover each other in water, whack each other, bare their bums, pop up from stage trapdoors and generally cause a lot of trouble. The plot is presented in episodes, in no particular order, where the cast simply act out the adventures in miniature. They take us through the time when Don Quixote fought windmills, when he meets a psychic monkey and when he beats a fire-eating beast (not technically in the book, but a worthy addition nonetheless).
In essence, it’s a highly enjoyable tribute to an often gloriously silly work of literature.
By Daisy Bowie-Sell