An old man opens the text and falls asleep whilst reading. In his dreaming sleepy we/he are transferred to the crypt of Miguel De Cervantes to encounter the long dead writer as he is presented with an opportunity to recount his life and near symbiotic relationship with his greatest creation. Whilst these transitions are not as well defined as expected, the ensuing performance more than makes up for any confusion or uneasiness.
Michael Daviot‘s Don Quixote: Unbound is sure-footed and sonorous and utilises meta-theatre. The performance is structured to ensure the message about the precarious nature of sanity (wherefore an individual can be right, whilst society is entirely wrong), is rendered loud and clear. The reliance upon the autobiographical aspects of Cervantes life and the parallels that are drawn between his travails and his writing, leave the more comic and absurd aspects of Quixote somewhat neglected apart from a few fart jokes.
The knight errant’s adventures are conveyed through use of colander, masquerade mask, mop, balloon and chair, but it is evident that in less skilful hands this surrealism may have veered into something akin to pantomime. Particular highlights are the transformation of wooden slats of chair into prison bars and the tending to and grooming of his faithful steed Rocinante.
Daviot’s adaptation is concerned with reflection and the distinction between reality and imagination, which is explored through muse and author. The staging by Mark Kydd alludes to the near child-like quality of the adventures utilising domestic objects in the pursuit of greatness and substituting naivety and idealism for bravery and courage. The play eschews the more noted elements of the text (tilting at windmills etc) to present Cervantes reflecting on the relevance of his novel’s themes, even allowing Quixote to transcend print and contemplate his future fame and remembrance.