Chicago's Building Stage theater company will be shuttering its doors after eight years, and its final production is Dawn, Quixote, a 95-minute condensation of Cervantes' epic novel, featuring six actors (three male, three female) in the role of Quixote. The play equally skewers and celebrates the stories that make up Cervantes' picaresque tale of the deluded nobleman who fashioned himself into a knight; the different actors assume the role of Quixote, while the other actors assume the other parts, while still done up in their wigs, beards, and swarthy makeup as the title character. The play is a recitation of passages from the novel, with fun touches added; the actors play Rock, Paper, Scissors in order to determine who's going to play Quixote (revealingly, the loser is the one who plays him;) the actors occassionally break into song, some original to the production, some old favorites, while playing on ukeleles; and setting off into the sun on their imaginary horses while the theme from The Magnificent Seven plays. The play's director and “conceiver”, Blake Montgomery, and the cast (Gabriel Franken, Michael Hamilton, Chelsea Keenan, Kate Sufern, Anne Walaszek, and Nathan Wonder), who together created their interpretation of the novel for the stage, have reconceived of Quixote as a cowboy, rather than an errant knight, and the analogy is far from spurious; after all, the extent to which Western movies and myths proliferated tales of gunslingers and their adventures on the open vistas of the old West were similar to the exaggerated tales of chivalry which sent Don Quixote on his journey. The play also incorporates some of the themes by Ennio Morricone used in the spaghetti westerns of Sergio Leone, which were shot in Spain and provides another link (though I'm not sure if it was intentional) between the land Quixote traversed and the mythic American West. The play makes entertaining viewing for anyone familiar with Don Quixote or anyone who just enjoys the skewering of great literature; think of it as a way of letting off steam at the long, “great” books you had to read in high school or college.
Dawn, Quxiote will run at the Building Stage, 412 N Carpenter St, Chicago, from March 25 until April 27.