Most people, even without reading the novel, know the story of the famous knight Don Quixote and his sidekick, Sancho Panza. Miguel de Cervantes’ 17th century novel has been beloved of readers for generations in spite of its incredible length, and it has been inspiration to artists of the visual and written spectrum since its publication.
Most people, even without reading the novel, know the story of the famous knight Don Quixote and his sidekick, Sancho Panza. Miguel de Cervantes’ 17th century novel has been beloved of readers for generations in spite of its incredible length, and it has been inspiration to artists of the visual and written spectrum since its publication. Currently, the story has been set for the stage: Miracle Theatre Group’s stage, as a matter of fact, right here in Portland.
El Quijote was originally written by a Columbian man named Santiago Garcia, obviously inspired by Cervantes’ novel of a similar title—the show being put on by Miracle Theatre Group is a modern adaptation of said script. It cuts out many of the adventures of the original story, but stays true to the heart and soul of the tale.
Gilberto Martin del Campo is wonderful as Quijote. He is both awkward and dignified, and somehow it seems as though Don Quixote himself walked out of his novel and is pacing the stage. He plays his character’s insanity to perfection, and it is hard not to see his vision as your own, even though it is so obviously self-deception.
Not only is del Campo fantastic in his role, but he delivers the play’s bilingual lines so beautifully that it could have been written into a song. As the antithesis to his master’s craziness, Danny Bruno gives an excellent performance of Sancho Panza. Even the looks of the two actors fit the canon descriptions of Quixote and Panza—the show is like watching the abridged version of the book.
In one memorable scene, Quijote sets out in a hodge-podge suit of armor (created by costumer Sarah Gahagan, who was fabulously creative in this and other scenes) on an adventure for his love interest, the beautiful Dulcinea, who is actually a farm girl that he has renamed and revamped into a princess worthy of a knight-errant’s quest. He is knighted by an innkeeper and sent on his way, and thus the story begins.
Director Olga Sanchez chose her team and actors flawlessly. The costumes were whimsical and in character and the acting spectacular. Even the sets were designed incredibly well. Actors were popping up out of doors that were previously unseen throughout the night. Mark Haack’s set was like a big, surprising game of hide-and-go-seek.
The production manages to take the viewer completely out of reality, much like the title character, for the whole duration. Even though many of the lines peppered through the script include Spanish, even the exclusively English-speaking audience can at least get the gist of what is being said, and the natural way the actors switch between languages makes the bilingual portion enrich the show rather than leave the audience confused.
The effort put into this production ensures that the audience, whether or not they were fans of the original story when they walked in the door, will leave happier for the experience. El Quijote is a must-see production for both fans of theater and fans of the novel.