WEW were mildly excited about this one. Not only had Patrick Marber’s play Don Juan in Soho (after Moliere) opened to some terrific reviews, but it also emerged that the whole thing is over in just 90 minutes with no interval.
Such brevity always whets the whingers’ appetites as it leaves plenty of time after the show to whinge (or very occasionally to praise) over a glass or two, and Phil was thrilled with the prospect that this was very likely to result in Andrew breaking his New Year’s resolution to moderate his merlot consumption.
Could WEW’s first theatrical foray of 2007 live up to expectations?
Don Juan in Soho does what it says on the tin (although Phil was at pains to point out that technically the Donmar is in Covent Garden, not Soho) following Moliere’s updated anti -hero (here called DJ) through a series of drug- and booze-fuelled sexual adventures in contemporary Soho.
Rhys Ifans delivers a charismatic performance in the title role reminding Phil of a younger Peter O’ Toole or even Donny Tourette. He gets lots of laughs with a mere glance, he’s louche and appropriately irresistible. There’s also excellent support from Stephen Wight as his sidekick Stan.
The production is tight, frequently hilarious and cleverly written. Marber’s text manages to blend ancient and modern, sometimes in the same speech without it jarring.
But there were further delights. WEW were again fortunate to be present on the night that the performance was interpreted in sign language by the hard working Mary Connell. The last time this happened was at Mark Ravenhill’s dreadful The Cut at the same venue. But as with the Ravenhill play WEW found fascination, rather than distraction, in seeing the lovely Mary having to sign words only fit for the bible. A rare treat and one which enhanced the whingers’ sign language lexicon no end.
We were also thrilled to note that the programme notes for David Ryall (who plays Louis, DJ’s father) listed among his credits The Signing Detective rather than The Singing Detective.
But most exciting of all, this was the first occasion since forming WEW that we’ve heard the word “whinge” uttered on stage. Furthermore, there was a diatribe from DJ against bloggers. At last, the impact of the WEW reaches the very stages of the West End.
And, as promised, the play finished dead on 9pm giving Phil ample time to hammer the final nails into the coffin of Andrew’s crumbling resolutions. Most satisfying.