Don Juan

Blair Adornato

Halfway through “Don Juan” playing at the Vasey Theater, I had to remind myself that I was not at the circus. I was watching the grad students’ rendition of the legendary tale of the seducer of a 1003 women instead. I must admit that I was less than eager to attend a play on a Tuesday night, knowing that I had a paper to write and fun to be had. But after dragging a friend along and seeing my fellow classmates in the audience, I began to warm up to the idea of some drama that had been missing in my life for the past two months.

I was nothing less than engaged for the two-hour showing. And when I mentioned the circus, I was not being dramatic. This rendition of “Don Juan” featured trapezes, swings, ropes, mirrors, poles and crazy costumes. There were men hopping from left to right, bells ringing from 12 feet up, women with feathers and lace and a jester somersaulting down the stage. And contributing to the cirque de soleil-esque madness was a set that featured more levels and layers than the Pacific Ocean.

This creative organization, in which the audience never knew which side or height the actor was entering from, combined with the audience participation kept us on our toes. Not once did I put my head down to “rest my eyes” as my mom used to always pretend or yawn from exhaustion.

Not only was the set organization impressive and eye catching, but the actors had an energy and astuteness to them that made the show what it was. Don Juan, a swarthy young man with a smooth accent, kept the energy alive through his suave interactions with the ladies, his swift confidence and unyielding stage presence. He is supported by graceful women on all sides who lure the audience in with their smirks and high slits and a handful of strapping young lads in funky newsboy caps and vests who narrate the story and Don Juan’s emotions through their actions, simultaneously in the background and the forefront with their energy throughout the entire show, enticing us into the drama of the events occurring onstage. They play off Guzman, Don Juan’s sidekick and confidant throughout the show, and the two provide the entertainment and light hearted energy that kept the grin on my face for nearly two hours.

Not only is this a fun and entertaining vignette of the lustful lifestyle of the legendary Don Juan, but it also provides us with insightful commentary on the notion of God in relation to such sexual debauchery and the Kierkegaardian idea of the life of the aesthete.

Although Don Juan has created a life of fun and interesting situations with women that any man would be jealous of, he also faces the consequences for those actions in the end of the play, which in many ways is a commentary on the lifestyle he has chosen for himself in comparison with the morality that haunts him through advice given by his servant and disapproval through his father. Both stand as a moral compass for the catastrophes he has caused in the lives of married women and those led astray by his endless compliments.

By the end of the play, this lifestyle comes to a halt as tensions mount and Don Juan comes into conflict with God. Guzman has been Don Juan’s conscience throughout the play, and as Don Juan faces judgment before God, Guzman parades throughout the stage ranting about the dangers of hypocrisy and the immoral actions of Don Juan.

These actions resonate with the Kierkegaardian criticism of the life of the aesthete which pivots upon the interesting and the intriguing, poignantly displayed by Don Juan throughout the show.

This commentary on Don Juan’s interesting life, which leads him to never make a concrete decision and settle down with merely one woman, resonates with the moral battle between the aesthetic surface level lifestyle and that of the more ethical standards found in many philosophy lectures and classes today. These parallels show that Don Juan is not merely a classic from the past, but instead a story that carries weight in our modern society today as we struggle with these polar opposites.

As the run of Don Juan draws to a close, do yourself a favor and forgo the drunken debauchery of the Quad. Take a friend and support the Villanova graduate program. Enjoy two hours of talent both onstage through actors and through set design. Give yourself some culture for a night.

As a person involved in liberal arts on campus and often complaining that there aren’t enough art programs, I am so excited to see that something this poignant and charismatic came out of Villanova. These students involved have taken the time to give us a dramatic opportunity, and we owe them the respect to pay it back through our presence and support. You wont be doing them a favor, you will be doing yourself a favor.