Review: Don Juan in Soho – a thrill-ride of debauchery, anarchy, and chaos

David Tennant stars in an update of Patrick Marber’s Don Juan in Soho, loosely based on Moliere’s tragicomedy ‘Don Juan’. Having premiered at the Donmar Warehouse in 2006, Marber describes his new adaptation as ‘naughty but nice’.

Set in contemporary Soho, the focus of the classic French play is transformed to a more intimate – and particularly filthy – insight into the life of Don Juan: a hopelessly sexist, cruel seducer, who lives only for pleasure.

Don Juan in Soho

The play is opened by dancers dressed innocently – and ironically – in white, as the audience awaits what is soon to become a thrill-ride of debauchery, anarchy, and chaos. Anna Fleischle’s classic, simplistic set, featuring the impressive statue of Charles II, provides the perfect backdrop, while tensions rise as Tennant’s arrival on stage is eagerly anticipated.

Tennant thrives in his almost animalistic character: Don Juan (or DJ) seduces women (or at least attempts to) as often as possible – even if they happen to be a newly-wed crying in a hospital waiting room over their husband’s critically-ill state. He pursues his prey until they surrender: he made huge effort with Lottie, played by the compelling Dominique Moore, until their wedding day when she had become less interesting and ‘have-able’. 

David is suitably mischievous, revealing a side to his acting capabilities that is far removed from the sci-fi protagonist we knew and loved in Doctor Who, and the dour Detective Inspector in Broadchurch. He is no stranger to the stage, however, having played in Hamlet in Gregory Doran’s critically-acclaimed RSC production and in Richard II at The Barbican more recently.

Don Juan in Soho

Adrian Scarborough shines as Stan, a highly amusing but often disloyal side-kick to DJ, who claims that DJ will “do it with anything… even a hole in the o-zone layer”. As the play progresses, you find yourself growing increasingly empathetic towards sweet, stumpy Stan; the moment DJ admits the admiration he has for his companion is almost touching (it’s difficult to commit to describing a character as outrageously amoral as DJ as ‘touching’).

The hilarity of the play is certainly enhanced by its modern additions, perhaps most notably the reference to one of Trump’s many controversial remarks, but also DJ’s lecture on modern society having the need to be “friended, followed, and liked” and how we have so-called ‘progressed’ from “charcoal to the iPhone”. 

Don Juan in Soho

Despite DJ’s barbaric behaviour and severely out-dated views, Tennant succeeds in winning the audience over: you somehow forgive his lifestyle and find yourself planted firmly by his side.

Don Juan in Soho is running at the Wyndham’s Theatre until Saturday 10 June. For an unmissable, scandalous evening, book your tickets here.

CELEBS ON STAGE

A number of celebrities are making London & West End Theatre appearances this year. We have the full low-down on which of your favourite actors are taking centre stage!

ALFIE BOE AND KATHERINE JENKINS 

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Welsh opera star Katherine Jenkins makes her West End debut in Rodgers & Hammerstein’s iconic musical Carousel as it comes to the London Coliseum this April, alongside English tenor and actor Alfie Boe (Jean Valjean in Les Misérables). 

Opens 7 April. Book tickets.

AMANDA HOLDEN

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ITV’s Britain’s Got Talent judge Amanda Holden stars in Maria Friedman’s wonderful and heart-warming comedy Stepping Out. 

In an attempt to tap away their troubles, seven women and one man join a weekly dancing class. After a shaky start, the group is barely getting to grip with the basics when they are asked to participate in a charity gala…

Opens 1 March. Book tickets.

AMBER RILEY

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American actress, singer and author Amber Riley – best known for her portrayal of Mercedes Jones in Glee – makes her West End debut in the UK premiere of Dreamgirls at the Savoy Theatre.

Open now. Book tickets.

DAMIAN LEWIS AND SOPHIE OKONEDO 

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Damian Lewis (Nicholas Brody in Homeland) and Sophie Okonedo (Hotel Rwanda) return to the West End to star in Edward Albee’s darkly comic masterpiece, The Goat Or Who Is Sylvia? 

Martin is at the pinnacle of life when he embarks upon an improbable and impossible love affair from which there is no return, and familial relationships begin to collapse.

Open 24 March. Book tickets.

DANIEL RADCLIFFE 

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Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter) will star in Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead as it returns to The Old Vic Stage in its 50th anniversary production.

Opens 6 March. Book tickets. 

DAVID BADDIEL

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British comedian, novelist and television presenter David Baddiel returns to the West End this March for the final time with a massively disrespectful celebration of the lives of his late mother, Sarah, and dementia-ridden father, Colin.

Open 28 March. Book tickets. 

DAVID TENNANT

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David Tennant, best known for his roles as the Tenth Doctor in Doctor Who, returns to the West End in Patrick Marber’s funny, sexy and shocking Don Juan in Soho.

Opens 18 March. Book tickets.

ED HARRIS

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Five-time Golden Globe winner Ed Harris (The Truman Show, Pollock) makes his West End debut in Sam Shepard’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play Buried Child.

Ends 4 March. Book tickets.

GRIFF RHYS JONES, LEE MACK AND MATTHEW HORNE

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Two-time Olivier Award winner Griff Rhys Jones (Not the Nine O’Clock News), Lee Mack (team captain on BBC’s Would I Lie To You?) and Matthew Horne (Gavin and Stacey) star in the major revival of Molière’s classic comic masterpiece The Miser.

Opens 1 March. Book tickets.

IMELDA STAUNTON AND CONLETH HILL

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Olivier and Bafta Award-winning Imelda Stainton (Sweeney Todd, Harry Potter and Nanny McPhee) & Olivier Award-winning Conleth Hill (Game of Thrones) will star in James Macdonald’s new production of Edward Albee’s landmark play Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? 

Opens 22 Feb. Book tickets. 

JOHN BOYEGA 

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John Boyega (Star Wards: Episode VII – The Force Awakens) stars in Jake Thorne’s production of Woyzeck, one of the most influential plays ever written.  

Opens 20 May. Book tickets.

 

TOM HOLLANDER

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Tom Hollander (Pirates of the Caribbean, Pride & Prejudice & BBC’s The Night Manager) portrays Henry Carr, a minor British diplomat in Zurich in 1917, in the revival of Tom Stoppard’s dazzling comedy of art, love and revolution.

Opens 3 February. Book tickets.