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Don Juan Comes Back From the War

What happens when you transform the infamous Don Juan into a World War One veteran.--ill from the Plague, desperately searching for an idealized love who has in fact died, and coming face-to-face with a succession of women he has wronged? Can such a man survive in a world drastically different from his natural habitat of aristocratic privilege? More importantly, can he change his ways or is his need to seduce women some kind of genetic flaw? These are the questions examined by playwright Ödön von Horváth. It's an interesting enough premise, but I'm afraid no one who sees the current interpretation of his play by the Willow Cabin Theatre Company is ever going to find any answers to these questions. Kenneth Favre is nice looking enough, but I'm afraid the cliche he's no Don Juan applies. His acting is so wooden that it puts our Vice-President to shame and brings to mind the old saw about the actor who was said to have an emotional range of "from A to B."

As poor as the casting is --few of the other members of the sizeable cast make much of an impression -- the stage craft is worse. Each of twenty scenes is followed by an interminable shuffling of props which, in most cases turns out to be a lot of sound and fury over hardly noticeable changes or improvements in the scenery. In many instance some propitious lighting could have saved needlessly expended time and energy. As it is time moves at a snail's pace. Everything is repetitious, even the music. Not even Ralph Fienes or a similar charismatic "hunk" could navigate his way out of this mess.

Maybe the London Royal Shakespeare production done in 1978 was better, but I'm afraid I can't recommend anything about this American premiere to anyone. You have until 3/23 to visit the Judith Anderson Theatre (424 W. 42nd St.) and prove me wrong. ©right March 1997, Elyse Sommer, CurtainUp.

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