The safest choice for a director is the tackling of a classical text. No matter if the mise en scene turns out to be more or less coherent , if the setting is innovational or it better fits in the trolls asserted by the part or if it has or not success, the generic salvo in case a simple justification is needed is ” It was just a thought”.
From here the demonstration can be continued and it is easy to imagine what will follow. On the other hand the situation is interesting and worthy of analysis the moment it needs no explanation, the instant it passes the limelight and supports itself, without the expository crutches taken out of the theatre’s hall schedule or the statements made at press conferences.
It is true that not all Phoenix birds that have known rebirth out of their own ashes on our national limelight also benefit from a happy contemporary existence. In the case of the mise en scene of the play Dom Juan by Moliere at the Al Davila theatre in Pitesti the play is not brought up to date, it is not wrapped in the contemporary foil, but literally re-read from an un-acted vista. The stage is always the same, the assumptions are kept, the moral is generally valid, thus the only change made is at the level of the characters. The relationship was changed while keeping the original text and different intentions were given to the same lines. Considering that the experiment worked, the result consists in a play in which the actions of Don Juan have an easy to swallow justification, while respecting tradition the positive and ill-treated characters have their own obvious fault, the conclusion does not appear to be a punishment, but rather a recovery of the balance, a putting into the proper relationship of the incompatibilities between Don Juan and the world in which he is forced to live in. The greatest and the supreme trick from my point of view is the travesty of Sganarelle. But not as a woman, but as a man, because Sgannarelle is actually the woman in love with Don Juan who keeps hidden his gender identity to be close to him, making sure to edit out the competition, while watching over him.
Unavoidably, the reinterpretation of the text has flaws – either due to the crew who failed to go all away with the description, or due to the actors who focused only on the general principle without probing deeper the received proposal. Without too much dissonance or frippery, there are moments in the show put on by Bogadan Cioaba that remain bare, which stand out from the general setting of the play, changing the focus to a place mainly amusing, diminishing the force of impact of the message. The options is obviously unclear. For the sake of an audience used to laugh at theatre plays, which was for a long time unjustifiably tricked into coming for the sake of the rough inelegant humour, filled most of the time with vileness and labelled as part of the glib, appears an interplay between a consumer’s comedy and a powerful inner drama. Fortunately this play bears only a slight influence of this destructive tendency of which I was speaking, but my regret as an onlooker is that this tendency of rough theatre negatively marks a well thought out, beautiful and marvelously acted out concept. While the others are played down, Don Juan does not stand on a pedestal, but contrary he is portrayed as just the best out the worst, seeming to be a sad lifeline. It is not his superiority which is underlined, but the mediocrity in which he plunges because of the people that surround him. I do not want to believe with obstinacy that his interpretation is wrong, but according to my opinion the play went too far with poor devices. An ambitious plan has been put into action with too rough and inadequate devices – this is the down fall, the foible of the play.
A seductive and flatulent Dom Juan
The crew confirmed what I already knew of each of them: Florin Dumitru as Dom Juan is a charming presence, with seductive power over the audience, capable of moving the public, sensible and gallant, but with the same flatulence in his speech and ordinary phrasing which proves that he is more an actor than a character, giving the character gestures from his own repertoire, their presence can’t be explained. Ileana Zarnescu playing the Beggar brings feeling to an essential scene in the play, says her lines with gravity, brings roundness and pulse to the scene, bringing the stability and some sense.
Mirela Dinu Popescu whose character Dona Elvira is worth feeling pity for, displays grace and nobility to the scene, but way to tasteless, to musty, making the character hard to remember, a simple pertinent presence.
Lia Deaconu and Coca Niculesc made out of Charlotte and Mathurine two cute girls, full of energy, two faces of the same coin, a well balanced stage couple but with too real involvement, supererogation where it shouldn’t be and superficiality. Gabi Gheorge as the talkative and inventive Pierrot has charisma, brings rhythm and desire to play, but he act to quick in everything he does and doesn’t give us the time to discover the character, he turns the character into a caricature and diminishes the force of his impact upon the audience. Catalin Mirea as Dom Carlos plays a comedy part and makes the audience laugh out loud, he attracts the public’s sympathy through a handful of lines, but with the price of changing his character into a cartoon like character, looking as being constructed out of ham acting. Dan Ivanesei is always loyal to Dom Juan’s father, that he plays on stage, he strictly follows the instructions of the director, he obeys too much and unfortunately as the show progresses he loses part of his glamour and soundness he displayed at first, recovering some of it in the end of the play. Radu Coriolan brings forth to the public a very abulia suffering and out of phase mister Dimanche playing to hard the part, pointlessly refining the lines and thrusting forward when he shouldn’t.
Sganarelle – a precious jewel
Don Juan gave me a special gift. I specially kept for the conclusion this personal joy, due to the acting of Mirela Popescu of the part of Sganarelle. I confess that this is the first time I am witness to such an occurrence on the stage of the Al. Davila Theatre. For me, the part played by Mirela Popescu is a jewel, lost between countless other objects in a chest. It may seem as circumstantial praise or dry enthusiasm, but each time I see her playing this part I feel the same emotion and I am convinced of what I noticed at the premiere: the prolific professional whiff, not common in the Pitesti theatre – which has fallen, and I can’t avoid saying it, in the sweet bliss that is mediocrity- and in the same time the desire for acting, the love for the job and a coherent thought on the stage. Whenever you see an actor who listens to his colleagues, who does not crowd the stage, but fills it with meaning every second spent in front of the audience, who feels the character and searches for the causes of his actions, really probing for possibilities of acting out the best way possible the character you can only say that you find yourself in the presence of a professional actor.
When you can put besides all of these the emotion that you feel whenever true talent is used as it should, you, as part of the audience, can only enjoy and let your-self be impressed. All of this happens in the play Dom Juan: Signarella is intelligent, able, knows how to mystify her identity, has a contagious humor, healthy and full of laughter, but doubles her optimistic nature with a special kind of soul inner lining – the love for Dom Juan. Out of love she does what she does and says what she says. She wants to have him near not only out of a lover’s selfishness, but also out of genuine care and prudence.
She has so many faces and talents for fear of not losing him, she hopes for another chance, she tries to find a way to make her feeling known by firstly coming to terms with his personality, she can’t allow herself to make a mistake and she is ready to do anything for him. Having so much soul devices and so many nuances and the possibility of changing moods, Mirela Popescu chooses not the right path, but the ideal path: she resists him, she doesn’t allow herself to be overwhelmed with meaningless emotions, breaks the volee and makes herself interesting in order to be heard. In order to succeed in obtaining such a balance between opposing forces you need a great delicacy in the understanding and the acceptance of the character. This time there was no place for partial involvement.
With shorts and overs, and with confirmed expectations, the play Dom Juan is more than just a proposal.
It is the living proof that you can read Moliere in a different, not classical interpretation, it is the proof that you can
have drama in a comedy, and for me constitues the certainty that
their are parts which underline the talent of actors and actors which underline the part. An extraordinary mise en scene, ambitious
as a proposal, decently acted out, where their is a special place even for the lyrism of the actor.
Translated by Dragos Lucian, MTTLC