IT’S not all about the Bard this year as the world marks the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare passing. An impoverished Spanish solider who died within days of the Stratford man also made his monumental literary mark.
Miguel De Cervantes’ epic comic novel is a cornerstone of modern fiction whose influence continues to echo down the centuries.
Don Quixote was the world’s first international bestseller – a novel described by the critic Harold Bloom as one which “contains within itself all the novels that have followed in its sublime wake.”
Bringing such a sprawling and revered novel to the stage was never going to be easy,
but this crowd-pleasing production proves the effort was well worth it.
Adapted by James Fenton, and directed by Angus Jackson, it’s a production with a real joie de vivre.
It helps when you have David Threlfall – back at the RSC for the first time since his celebrated Smike in Nicolas Nickelby in the 1980 – stepping into Don Quixote’s chivalrous shoes, and comedian Rufus Hound mounting Dapple as his loyal sidekick Sancho Panza.
The comic timing of both is evident throughout, with Hound’s Panza sharing asides and ad libs with the audience.
A fine cast support the pair’s adventures in a production of great invention, from windmills which send Don Quixote sailing into the air, to a quite brilliant lion – which should make ‘exit pursued by a bear’ a doddle in the future.
There was song and dance, much laughter, and even a few tears in the Swan. This run will surely not be the last seen of this production.
Be warned though. Anyone in the front row who sends a husband-searching Mrs Panza off in the wrong direction may find themselves on babysitting duty.
Don Quixote runs until May 21.
Visit www.rsc.org.uk for tickets and further details.