From the moment you sit down for a show by New World Performance Lab (NWPL), you have permission to become immersed in a vibrant new world. For the next hour and a half, you are a part of the show. You will be asked to open your imagination, clap along, to suspend your beliefs and reconsider the way you see the world. In this reality, there are two languages, windmills are giants and you are encouraged to fight for what you believe. It will be more than watching a play and whether or not you’re ready, you are now a part of the show.
For those unfamiliar with NWPL, they are an ensemble based theatre that spend months building their shows and focusing on their actors’ personal development, their relationships with one another and the script. That work was evident in their first show to celebrate their 25th anniversary, “Don Quijote.” The amount of precision and effortless immersion the actors were able to accomplish could only have been done by such in-depth work. The actors took you by the hand (almost literally) and immersed you in the show.
The “Don Quijote” cast is a powerhouse of talent. First, most of the actors play multiple roles and they move in and out of them with ease. In addition to being versatile, each cast member brought their own flavor to the show. Debora Totti’s (Ama) and Chris Buck’s (Barber) comedic timing pared with Justin Hale’s (Don Carrasco) and Rosilyn Jetner’s (Sobrina) electrifying and captivating presence keep you exhilarated. You’re practically friends with Jamie Hale (Sancho Panza) by the time you leave the theatre. And Jairo Cuesta’s (Don Quijote) ability to command the stage with his physicality and devotion to his character’s journey makes you want to join him on his quest. All of this is accompanied by musician James Marron’s guitar, the beautiful, harmonic voices of the actors and the simple, yet vibrant stage design. All of this adds to the effortless flow of the production.
NWPL’s adaptation of “Don Quijote” incorporated important elements of Miguel de Cervantes’ novel to the show, including metatheatre, intertextuality and realism. The work moves effortlessly through the themes by first establishing the play within the play at the very beginning. Furthermore, NWPL keeps true to the reason for Don Quijote’s madness. He has gone insane due to reading so many books about chivalry that he sets out on [many] adventures to right the wrongs of the world. He does right some wrongs, but most of his quests are revealed as hallucinations. And the show is bilingual (Spanish-English). Any fan of Don Quijote would be satisfied, if not thrilled.
New World Performance Lab’s performance of their adaptation of Don Quijote is breathtaking. No, it’s playful. It is stunning and electrifying and innovative. There are mask and puppets and song. It’s like tapping into the imagination of a child where the world before you has endless possibilities. The story of the loveable, crazy hidalgo is brought to life before your eyes and executed effortlessly by a brilliant cast. It sends you in search of “what will make your eyes whole.” It was definitely a work worth seeing.
Don Quijote will be playing on Thursday, May 31, Friday, June 1 and Saturday June 4. Check out the Facebook event for details at https://bit.ly/2J9UsS7.
Support NWPL 25th anniversary by donating to their “No-Gala” fundraiser. Donation options available on their website.