The audience sits on cushions on the floor in the middle of the performance space swiveling to face the action around the edges of the room. Magical shadow projections based on episodes from the novel cover the white walls while different characters appear all in some way inspired in their lives by Don Quijote and often crossing paths with one another to comic effect. Don Quijote appears before us as a knight errant who arms himself in cardboard and marches off stage with a member of the audience on a mystery mission; as one of the producers of the production shipped in from Barcelona who tells us a touching tale of showering his Primary School pupils with petals on the day of his Quijote-inspired departure from his job; as a bull-fighter fired up with Don Quijote passion; as a divinely inspired monkey, and so on.
The performance guides us into the world those who live for their dreams however futile they might be and gradually turns the spotlight back on us, the audience members as a challenge to change. What real-life Don Quijotes have – such as the man who walks naked across the globe constantly being arrested and then released, arrested and then released, and the man who annually applies unsuccessfully for funding from NASA to launch a space craft from his back garden – is the daring to live according to their own principles. And so, don’t we allow our lives to be degraded by compromises? Don’t they wear us down into feeble versions of ourselves?
The production puts these questions to us to the background of an electric guitar, a chainsaw and increasingly violent shadow projections. It is moving stuff. The show ends with the audience showered by ‘petals’ from the leaves of Cervantes’ great work.
Cervantes wrote to parody the chivalric literature of his time and would surely have us live with our dreams, be overwhelmed by them, lose touch with reality as we seek them out, but not have them drilled into us like a mantra – which this production ended by doing. But there was magic here too and overall this was an inspiring, humorous and daring production – highly recommended.