Wednesday January 17th 2018

“Quixote: On The Conquest of Self “

Leave it to Writers Theatre to bring us a story or an interpretation of the story from the classic novel by Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote de la Mancha taking us across time periods. This is a 90 minute (no intermission) piece written by Monica Hoth and Claudio Valdes Kuri (with an English translation by Georgia Escobar) and it is directed by Kuri. Who would you imagine bringing this character to life? It is none other than Henry Godinez, a name in the  Chicago Theater Community , that everyone knows. Many have seen  plays he has directed as well as those where he has performed, but in this particular production, we get to see  Godinez as never seen before. His energy is so high, even those who came into the theater tired, became more alert.

“Quixote” is playing in the black-box theater, The Gillian. This venue can be altered to fit the production and in this case, the audience is seated in three sections that face a two walled stage area, that appears to be made of a sort of rubber, which as we find out is a very important part of this show. As the lights come up on an almost blackened stage, we see an open tome (another name for book, of course) with a spot light on it and behind this book, the upside man known as Don Quixote telling us his story. It seems that he cannot reach the book in order to turn the pages so he can tell us his story, and so he calls upon an audience member to assist him, and upon doing thus, his story/narrative begins.

Godinez is absolutely “stunning” in his portrayal of this character that has been around since the 1600’s. As he turns pages in the tome, his body is propelled forward and over the period of time, we see Godinez as very agile and comedic. In fact, one might think that this was a Lookingglass production (known for Circus-style direction) than a Writers, but Writers has proven to be very creative of late, so why not continue to shock us with their creativity? They did use the talents of Sylvia Hernandez-DiStasi (of Lookingglass) for acrobatic advisement and training.

Godinez draws his audience into his saga by bringing them on the stage to do several things. First to “Knight” him and then using that audience member to help him tell a story of romance and love. Godinez has a great face and being in this tiny venue allows each of us to watch his every movement- they are brilliant ( I smell a Jeff nomination for this one)! Amazingly all the audience members were easy to respond to his “quests” and appeared to be having a ball doing so.

Godinez takes on his Quixote role with great energy and mocks many of the “other” books, movies and “musicals” that tried to illustrate his character. This is a re-telling of one man and his triumphs and defeats, alas without Sancho, but without giving away anything, I will tell you that as the story goes on, you will not miss Sancho at all! The play also looks at this character and his search for the “impossible dream” a sit relates to today as well as the past. As in the Cervantes tales, Quixote is seeking to find his dream and to know if he himself can author his own future. Is there only one creator? Are there several authors of his stories? Can he, himself, change the outcome and re-write the ending so he finds happiness. As he states “The limits of one’s language is the limits of the mind”.

Not wanting to give away anything, there is another performer in the production and she is marvelous as well, bringing a youthful energy to add to the story and helping Quixote to open his eyes to his future. I will only tell you that her name is Emma Ladji and she is dynamic in every way. There is no real set to this production, and yet, I did not miss having one. The choreography ( Billy Siegenfeld) is mesmerizing, Mr. Godinez’ costume (Sanja Manakowski) stunning and the lighting (Alexander Ridgers) sheer perfection. The props were handled by Scott Dickens. I guess I would have to call this a theatrical experience that is highly enjoyable and while I am sure some will find it a bit much, if you go into the theater with an open mind, wanting to be entertained, this performance will delight you and perhaps make you want to pick up a copy of the original story and re-read some of the adventure that de Cervantes created.

“Quixote: On The Conquest of Self” will continue at Writers Theatre, located at 325 Tudor Court in Glencoe through December 17th, with performances as follows:

Tuesdays  7:30 p.m.

Wednesdays  7:30 p.m. (with some select matinees at 3 p.m.)

Thursdays  7:30 p.m.

Fridays  7:30 p.m.

Saturdays  3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

Sundays  2 p.m.  and 6 p.m.

Tickets  range from $35- $80 and are available by calling 847-242-6000 or at http://www.writerstheatre.orgyou can also visit the box office

Parking is on the street and at the train station, a block away- NO CHARGE

 

Audience Engagement                                                                                                                                           

ASL  Saturday , December 2nd  7:30 p.m.

Open- Captioned  12/1 at 7:30 p.m.

On November 12th, after the matinee, a discussion will be held regarding the world surrounding favorite plays- make this a memorable day and RSVP when you purchase a ticket for that performance

Each Tuesday performance is followed by a post show discussion- THE WORD

Each Wednesday evening performance is followed by a post show discussion THE ARTIST

To see what others are saying, visit www.theatreinchicago.com, go to Review Round-Up and click at “Quixote: On The Conquest of Self”.

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