An ingenious staging of Keith Dewhurst’s adaptation of Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra’s DON QUIXOTE, by director Jared Reed, stirred a standing ovation from opening night’s audience. Under a cleverly arrayed set, utilizing light and shadows in conjunction with puppetry, sound and music, the fanciful adventures of Don Quixote (Brian McCann), knight errant, and loyal his sidekick Sancho Panza (Zoran Kovcic) are refreshingly revived.
One Alonso Quijana decides, after having immersed in stories of chivalry, to leave his lands, donning sword and cloak to rekindle the spirit of the knights of old Spain. Upon his horse Rocinante, portrayed by an inventive sawhorse-like device on wheels, Don Quixote and Sancho, on a smaller sawhorse, designating his mule Dapple, ride out to joust and journey to better the world, getting themselves into all sorts of silly, and serious, situations.
Brian McCann brings warmth, humanity and intelligence to the character of Don Quixote, yet plays him equally as well as a madman on a made-up mission, who may possibly have some roots in sanity. Sancho, as expressed by Zoran Kovcic is unforgettably funny. His voice, face, and physicality speak tomes from the stage. A terrific ensemble of scenery moving theater roustabouts, including the talent of Susan Wefel, Devon Walls, Brock D. Vickers, Jennifer Summerfield, Colleen Marker, Lily Dwoskin and Allison Bloechl, play various characters when they are not changing setpieces. The timing and dexterity of the group as a whole adds lucidity to the production, tying together threads and keeping the quick scene changes joined in a highly entertaining and sometimes bawdy fashion. Many funny acts are incorporated via the ensemble and they are adept at playing to the audience. At one point on opening night, a set of malfunctioning mustachios was applied to wring more laughter from the house. That is a gift requiring skill, confidence and capability.
Innovative technical twists such as having the set changes, props placement, etc. transparently performed, add visual interest to the production. It is fascinating to see these changes accomplished. The set (Chris Kleckner) with its screens, pulley driven Sun and Moon, and other mechanisms is versatile, and the stage and theater space is well employed. Lighting (Jared Reed) is used to capacity to enhance and delineate, as well as for the projection of select puppets (puppets by Alisa Kleckner). Well conceived sound design (Patrick Lamborn), including sonorous Spanish guitar and other musical overtones, is also used in conveying parts of the story. Costumes (Sarah Mitchell) and props (Susan Wefel and Grey Kelsey) round out a brilliant and bold new take on an old tale. [Hedgerow Theatre, 64 Rose Valley Road, Media, PA]; May 7-June 7, 2015; hedgerowtheatre.org