Although everybody knows that Tirso de Molina’s El Burlador de Sevilla is the source of inspiration for what would become Lorenzo da Ponte’s libretto for Mozart´s Don Giovanni, the truth is that few people have seen the play outside Spain. As the British director responsible for the production at the Teatro de la Abadía, Dan Jemmett, himself explains, the text does not survive translation very well. If you think Italian is a dramatic language, you should REALLY check Spanish, in which “How are you? Fine, thanks” sounds like “A horse, a horse, my kingdom for a horse!¨.
As it is, although you do miss Mozart when the statue of the Commendatore appears on stage, Molina’s Spanish verses still do the trick either in funny or sad moments. Actually, the fact that most scenes involve people complaining about their disappointments with love must have something to do with the fact that the action is staged in a bar and people are almost invariably having a drink. The idea here is rather stylizing than updating and the actors handle their multiple roles very convincingly. The only actor who stays in one part throughout is Antonio Gil, taking the title role. His energy, charisma and animation are indeed amazing. It seems he leads an international career in different European stages – and I can see why.
The fact that the soundtrack involves lots of reggae music (as played in the bar’s stereo) is a bit of a turn-off for Mozartians, but it certainly works as a turn-on when Don Juan uses it to seduce his “victims” in dance numbers recalling Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction. If there is one thing I dislike about this staging is a sort of “magic” thing some characters do with their hands in order to bring to scene some elements which are off stage – I found it terribly unconvincing. Also, the last scene could have done better with some lighting trick or something that showed the nightmarish atmosphere other than Gil’s excellent acting