Jonathan Holloway Director/Writer of this summer’s production of Don Quixote talks us through mashing up a centuries old chivalric code with two ‘third age’ men in a caravan.
A note from the Writer/Director:
Don Quixote is the master work of “Spain’s Shakespeare”, Miguel de Cervantes. The Creation team who brought you groundbreaking site-specific productions of 1984 and Brave New World now hurl this classic text into the present in the fascinating surroundings of Oxford’s covered market.
Quixote here collides with ‘Waiting for Godot’ and ‘The Odd Couple’. ‘Last of the Summer Wine’ goes nuclear in a production which is by turns hilarious and almost unbearably moving. In Writer/Director Jonathan Holloway’s hands Cervantes’ portrait of a deluded old man who strikes out into the world to right wrongs and return Spain to the golden age of Chivalry becomes the story of two endearing chaps, Don (Quixote) and Sam (Sancho Panza), who determine to replace a threadbare existence with an epic road trip during which they will bear before them longing for a lost England. With the aid of an old jalopy, a barely roadworthy caravan and a moped, they will strike west from Oxford on a crusade to re-establish a time when they believe the nation knew itself. A time when men were men, women were women, and everyone wanted either to be James Bond or fall under his spell.
How to do Don Quixote?
As a ‘third age’ man, I am of course conscious of the many challenges the new ‘woke’ world throws at people like me. Having been on what I consider the ‘right side’ all my adult life, it’s a bit peculiar to find yourself being regarded as a possible Brexiteer, ‘clinger’ or ‘gammon’. I have always identified with the great vibrancy that characterised Cervantes himself, much as I do with Rodin’s ebullient statue ‘Portrait of Balzac’, and have thought of Don Quixote as a kind-of ‘warm bath’ book. Not a lot happens, and what does travels at a rather leisurely pace, but it’s comforting and worth staying immersed for the pleasure it gives over a prolonged period. As the foundation for a drama, it’s a gift – not so much for the incidents that many are familiar with from movie versions – the windmills, the absurd knighting at the hands of an inn keeper, the pots and pans worn as armour – but because it speaks of the struggle of a good and energetic soul against the encroaching twilight. It’s something we will all identify with sooner or later. It has to be dealt with seriously and at the same time deftly, delivering events, humour and pathos in equal measure. No pressure then….
23 August – 28 September, The Covered Market