15 March 2007

Man of La Mancha

I saw a production of Man of La Mancha at the Long Wharf Theatre in New Haven, Conn. this weekend.

It was an unusual production, and one that mnight disappoint you if your expectations for this musical were created by the old Broadway play or the 1973 movie (with Sophia Loren and Peter O'Toole) based thereon.

As always, the frame story is that Cervantes is awaiting trial by the Spanish Inquisition arising from his activities as a tax collector. In this grim surrounding, Cervantes encourages the other prisoners in a "pantomime," in which they act out the story of Alonso Quijana, the man who in his madness persuades himself that he is Don Quixote, the knight of the woeful countenance.

Usually, the staging escapes the frame story pretty quickly. Cervantes has a miraculous trunk with him in the dungeon which he employs to dress every prisoner appropriately, and we are off -- out of the dungeon -- battling windmills that are giants, hosted by innkeepers who are noble lords.

In this case, the staging never escaped the frame. We're always kept very aware of the fact that Quijanes/Quixote is "really" Cervantes, and everybody is really still in the confined dungeon awaiting word on their respective fates.

Personally, I enjoyed this production on its own terms. Herbert Perry was in wonderful voice as the idealistically delusional knight, and Hollis Resnick brings the right vulnerability, wistfulness, and wariness to the roles of Escalante (in the dungeon), Aldona (in Cervantes' story) and Dulcinea (in the Don's fantasy).

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Knowledge is warranted belief -- it is the body of belief that we build up because, while living in this world, we've developed good reasons for believing it. What we know, then, is what works -- and it is, necessarily, what has worked for us, each of us individually, as a first approximation. For my other blog, on the struggles for control in the corporate suites, see www.proxypartisans.blogspot.com.