Theatre review: Don Juan, Assembly George Square Theatre

'Sean! Jesus! It's been ages.' 'Oh, my God. You are gorgeous.' These are the kind of greetings you can expect as you make your way into Assembly's The Bubble for this extremely funny, high-energy reworking of the story of seductive hedonist Don Juan.
Troupe are high-energy performers. Picture: ContributedTroupe are high-energy performers. Picture: Contributed
Troupe are high-energy performers. Picture: Contributed

Don Juan, Assembly George Square Theatre (Venue 8) ****

The highly involving, multi-talented New Zealand group, A Slightly Isolated Dog, play a troupe of “very passionate, very emotional, very French” actors. They pick out participants like props to tell the tale of Don Juan’s rip-roaring adventures. By the end, they seem to know all of our names, jobs and relationship statuses – and we’re convinced we’re the best-looking audience in history.

Don Juan is played by different people over the course of the show. With a silver-edged baseball cap and shades, his “playa” persona is simultaneously silly and sexy, with the melodrama of his escapades only matched by the grandiose declarations of love and hate from the clown-like company’s personal lives.

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And when the sheer emotion of it all gets too much, the group turns to song – belting out power ballads that slice through the action in a way that’s as ridiculous as it is rousing.

There’s a brilliant mix of high drama and domestic drama, as well as wry insights into everyday romance, in the sharply written but partly improvised show. “What do you do to get over a broken heart?” a woman’s asked at one point. “Watch Netflix?” she suggests.

A monologue that imagines an alternative life for Don Juan, with a stable job, three kids and one monogamous relationship sounds horrifyingly dull and asks: which version of reality is really the ridiculous one?

Is Don Juan “an arsehole”, or simply free in a way we aren’t? It’s an interesting question and one that encourages us all to live and love bigger and better.

• Until 27 August, 1:10pm