REVIEW: Don Gil of the Green Breeches, at Ustinov Theatre, Bath. Five stars, by Harry Mottram
BREATHTAKING, beautiful and full of green breeches. Indeed there were so many pairs of green breeches on stage at one point I almost lost the story completely. It was very complicated: Donna Juana has been dumped and seeks to fool Don Martin who fancies Donna Ines who is pursued by Don Juan while Quintana has to pick up the pieces. And then there's the money, the estate and all that Iberian honour at stake. Phew.
The 17th century cross dressing revenge comedy of mistaken identity by Tirso de Molina is one of three plays in the Ustinov's Golden Age season. A near contemporary of Shakespeare there is a distinct mirroring of some of the style of As You Like It and Twelfth Night if not the poetry or the darker side of the Bard. Clearly the writer and priest Tirso de Molina was a perceptive critic of the human condition with some of the best lines (and asides to the audience) going to the female protagonist and servants.
The play is a revelation about the supposedly stuffy Catholic Spain of the era of the early 17th century.
Director Laurence Boswell kept the pace at high speed, managing to incorporate some exquisite formal courtly dancing and much evocative music of the period.
This is classy, clever and hugely enjoyable theatre which deserves a wider audience for its inclusive style, earthy humour and fabulous costumes. It runs until December 21.