He may be a fixture of our TV screens in Broadchurch, but since filming the ITV drama David Tennant has been busy preparing to star as a hedonistic DJ in Don Juan in Soho, a play by Patrick Marber which has received mixed reviews following its press night.
Patrick Marber (who also directed Ruth Wilson in Hedda Gabler at the National Theatre) has revived his own play at the Wyndham’s Theatre in London. His update of Moliere’s 1665 comedy was first performed 11 years ago with Rhys Ifans taking the lead.
Doctor Who and Broadchurch actor David Tennant has taken on the role of Don Juan, who in this revival is a hedonistic DJ living it large in London. Tennant described the character as the “Dalai lama of debauchery”.
The most searing criticisms of the play came from The Stage – “charmless and creepy” – and The Telegraph – “pants” – who both gave it two stars.
The Evening Standard wrote that while Tennant was a “charismatic blend of swagger and agility, exuding twinkly charm and leaping around the stage like a tipsy gazelle”, in the end “the writing never feels fierce enough”.
Meanwhile, the Daily Mail accused the play of “trying to have it both ways, exposing decadence while simultaneously charging big money for that very sort of titillation”.
Time Out placed itself somewhere in the middle. “If you’re made of sterner moral stuff than me you may walk out in disgust at a show that kind of sort of glorifies the objectification of women,” he confesses, “but it’s all so puppyish and giddy that I just found it easier to shut my conscience off and laugh”.
And other outfits found much to praise, with the play hailed for its handling of identity, selfishness and morality, issues which have become “ever more pressing” according to What’s On Stage. This was echoed by The Times – “a morality play that won’t take itself seriously”. And while the performance didn’t get a laugh out of some critics, the Guardian wrote that Tennant was “whimsically comic”.
Don Juan in Soho runs at Wyndham’s Theatre runs until 10 June.
Photo credit: Helen Maybanks