UW-Parkside theater presents Don Juan

don juan duel
UW-Parkside actors showing off their stage fighting abilities in their performance of Don Juan.

Hollace Villarreal | villa068@rangers.uwp.edu

Moliere’s Play

Don Juan is a play by Moliere adapted from a legend of the same name. Don Juan was first performed in 1665 with Moliere himself playing the part of Sganarelle.

Don Juan and Sganarelle

The titular character, Don Juan (played by Shane Richlen), is shown throughout the play to have an interesting, multifaceted personality, where one of his defining traits is shown through each act of the play. He is shown to be adulterous, womanizing, self-centered, atheistic and dishonest. However, through his charismatic nature, you can not help but identify with and root for him throughout the play.

Sganarelle, his servant (Jarrod Langwinski), is the exact opposite of him, but not quite a foil. While his master goes off trying to seduce women and get money, Sganarelle tries in vain to convert him back to Christianity. However, Sganarelle is the comic relief of the play and consequently is never taken seriously.

A brief summary

The play begins with Sganarelle speaking to Gusman (Chelsea Strebe) about their employers, Don Juan and his wife. After Sganarelle has sufficiently trash talked Don Juan, he and his wife Elvire (Riccarda Eickenberg) appear. They argue and Don Juan leaves with Sganarelle.

The next act introduces us to Charlotte (Hannah Anderson) and her fiancé Pierrot (Cody Summers). Pierrot tries to convince Charlotte to love him and tells her that he has fished some men out of the ocean after a shipwreck. Charlotte quickly discovers one of these men to be Don Juan and is seduced by him. He promises marriage to her (as well as to her neighbor Mathurine, played by Rayne Kleinofen) and then leaves them.

In the next act, Don Juan and Sganarelle are disguised, trying to escape men who want Don Juan dead for disgracing his wife Elvire. Don Juan inadvertently saves one of these men, Elvire’s brother Don Carlos (Kyle Racas). Don Carlos and his brother Don Alonse (Skyler Albaugh) decide to spare Don Juan for the day, to give him time to think about his options. Don Juan and Sganarelle happen upon the statue of a Commander (Alex Griffin) Don Juan had killed and they mock it. The statue moves, scaring them, and they retreat.

Don Juan and Sganarelle enjoy a hectic dinner, where Dimanche (Maxwell Alexander) calls on Don Juan for money, Don Juan’s father (Alex Griffin) shows up to shame him for his lifestyle, Elvire comes to warn Don Juan of “heaven’s wrath”, as she is no longer furious, and finally the statue of the Commander, who invites Don Juan to dinner the next day.

In the last act of the play, Don Juan tells his father that he has repented. When his father leaves, Don Juan tells Sganarelle that he meant none of it, and gives an impassioned speech about hypocrisy.

Don Carlos appears, threatening a duel. A specter appears, offering salvation. Don Juan wants neither of these things. The Commander finally enters and the ground opens up, swallowing Don Juan as all the people he has wronged stand behind him in a ghostly light.

When the smoke clears, Don Juan is gone and Sganarelle laments his lost paycheck.

The performance

This was beautifully done, the actors had command over their words and the choreography was well rehearsed. Though the language was a little hard to understand at times, as the play is well over 300 years old. The actors’ gestures (Sganarelle in particular) communicate the meaning of the words effectively. All in all, it was a great performance.

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