It's fair to say that many of us have thought a lot about heaven and/or hell. I have for sure. Where is it? How do we get there, or not? Who ultimately makes the decision?
While my entire professional nursing career has been spent in and around life and death, I have observed that thoughts on life consume the days, and impending death consumes the dark nights. In between, there seem to be very few true conversations about the life beyond.
"Don Juan in Hell, Man and Superman — Act III" by George Bernard Shaw exists in those hard to find conversations.
"Don Juan in Hell" derives from "Man and Superman," a four-act drama written by Shaw in 1903. The series was written in response to calls for Shaw to write a play based on the Don Juan theme.
"Act III" is a lengthy piece of the anthology that is commonly produced as a stand-alone work. Shaw filled the script with nothing but brilliant dialogue that attracts the audience.
Presented by The Paper Wing Theatre Company, the production offers an interesting perspective on the conversations that Don Juan (played by up-and-coming actor Timothy Sameniego) is able to have with the individuals who directly or indirectly enabled his placement in hell.
The crux of the play finds Don Juan carrying on lengthy, energized philosophical conversations with three other characters.
Ana (played by Taylor Noel Young) is the beautiful married woman with whom he had an affair.
The Statue, who delivered
Then there's Lucifer, the devil himself (played by Erik James Morton, an eight-time Paper Wing performer) who was powerful and determined in representing the devil's view in the delivery of his responses to Don Juan's overly obsessed philosophizing.
Director Jourdain Barton has definitely evoked a sense of question and mystery surrounding the conversations, which cover everything — politics, ethics, marriage, honor, the church, religion, values. The play brings these topics to a different view.
Don Juan's notable line "... there is justice in hell: heaven is far above such idle human personalities. You will be welcome in hell, señora. Hell is the home of honor, duty, justice and the rest of the seven deadly virtues. All the wickedness on earth is done in their name; where else but in hell should they have their reward? Have I not told you that the truly damned are those who are happy in hell?"
All four characters seemed to be wired together. Not one missed a beat. Their performances and enduring commitment to their characters was enthralling.
Barton's expressed personal interest in the classics is renewed and refreshed in this production.
This is Barton's second production at Paper Wing under the S.T.A.R. foundation. This foundation opens up the theater to theater students, allowing them to choose a play and be guided through the process of production by the directors and producers at the Paper Wing. She displays great talent and personal commitment to our local theater.
The cozy Paper Wing Theater offers an intimate view of the actors, who each vividly displayed facial features and body language that truly enhanced the roles of their characters.
I was particularly drawn to the director's use of bright red accents on each character, from Ana's red lipstick and flower in her hair, to the red bowtie worn by Don Juan, to the red tie of Lucifer, and the lesser red tie of the Statue.
Barton and the cast were responsible for makeup and costumes.
At various points in the production, the dimming of lights made the red accents more powerful in the characters' delivery.
The static set backdrop was a large design that was nearly as mesmerizing, capturing the essence of "what could be hell." It all made for a profound but simple balance.GO!
·What: Paper Wing Theatre Company presents "Don Juan in Hell"
·Where: Paper Wing's Gallerie Theatre, 320 Hoffman Ave., at Lighthouse Avenue, Monterey
·When: Continues at 8 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays through Sept. 29
·Tickets: $20 general admission, $15 seniors, students and military; available at the door (box office opens a half-hour before showtime or at www.paperwingtheatre.com