Writer: Glenys Evans
Director: James Williams
Reviewer: Barbara Michaels
By telling the story of the Spanish knight in shining armour, Don Quixote, through the eyes of his travelling companion Sancho Panza, this vibrant company gives a brilliant new twist to the classic novel by Miguel De Cervantes and what is arguably one of the greatest works of fiction published.
Director James Williams uses masks and puppetry in a contemporary adaptation by writer Glenys Evans that ticks all the boxes for originality. An imaginative use of space and props by set and costume designer Mary Drummond allows the inclusive cast of five to explore the stage as if it is indeed the magical mad lands that the medieval knight and his squire inhabit.
In the lead rôles, Gareth Wyn Griffiths plays the part of Don Quixote with evident relish, also revealing that he has a fine voice. Gareth Clark, as Sancho, copes magnificently with the demands of chivalry, while also displaying a sense of comic timing that other more experienced actors might envy.
Williams as director does a fine job in melding together a company that has its own limitations. On stage, the incredibly handsome and multi-talented Maxwell James holds it all together. A graduate of the prestigious Mount View Academy of Theatre Arts, James proves himself both a fine actor and troubadour and a generous member of the cast. Not easy, with a company that is one of the few professional theatre companies that allows for full inclusion of people with learning disabilities.
It is good to see Gaynor Lougher back on stage. One of the founder members of Hijinx Theatre, and its artistic manager, she gives a perceptive and strong performance at all times, stepping in skilfully when needed (a considerable part of the show is ad-libbed).
There is much material here, and most of it is excellent. Evans is to be congratulated in finding a new approach to a classic story that has had its twists and turns explored many times. However, although overall a brilliant and innovative production, it is a tad too long for a one-act play, and might benefit from a rewrite into two acts.