Like Cervantes’s sprawling book, this Don Quixote crosses many styles. It begins with a five minute scene, then a feedback – or rather ‘feedforward’ – session with the audience, explaining who the performers all are. Three of them are Spanish: Patricia Rodriguez, Mercé Ribot and the mostly silent but brilliantly talented flamenco guitar-playing Maria Camahort. One of them, Steve Harper, is English.
There is poetry, the simple rhymes of a children’s story, then it moves through musical, mime and slapstick – emphasis on the word ‘slap’. The three performers spend much of their time slapping each other’s faces or bottoms with puerile glee. At one point Harper slaps Rodriguez’s face hard and she breaks character to tell him off and to reach for his balls in retaliation. The enigmatic Camahort accompanies the whole piece, providing not only a soundtrack but sound effects too.
Little Soldier’s little play selects episodes from the many hundreds in the book and acts them out with full-on silliness. A roughness pervades the performance, from the semi-costumes made from sheets and sashes and jeans, to the frequent departures from the script to clown around and berate each other on stage.
All the actors, except Camahort, keep the audience involved by running around and hugging them, kissing them, almost throwing buckets of water in their faces and letting them take part in a big pillow fight. With vaudevillian variety and Pythonesque absurdity, Little Soldier Productions turns juvenility into an art form. Particularly and consistently amazing is Rodriguez, who plays the filthy, impish, mischievous Sancho Panza. She has a finely tuned comic ability and everything she does is brilliantly funny.
Little Soldier’s take on one of the greats of literature is completely irreverent. It is childish, crass and chaotic but, more importantly, it is also hilarious and undeniably charming.
The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote Of La Mancha is at Zoo (Venue 124) until 25th August. For more information and tickets visit the EdFringe website.