Monday, September 21, 2009

OSF: Don Quixote

Don Quixote and Sancho Panza may not quite rank up with Abbott & Costello, Laurel & Hardy,  Brooks & Reiner, Bob & Ray, Nichols & May, the Smothers Brothers, Burns & Allen, Cheech & Chong, or Newhart & the guy on the other end of the phone line in a list of best comedy duos, but Armando Duran and Josiah Phillips brought laughs and smiles to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival production of Don Quixote on the outdoor Elizabethan Stage.

   Laird Williamson directed the OSF production, a world premiere of a new adaptation by Octavio Solis of the Cervantes novel.

It was especially great to see a more substantial role for Phillips, a 19-year festival veteran whom we've mostly seen in smaller parts. It seems he has been cast in several August Wilson plays that OSF has staged mainly in the early part of the season, though we did see him in Gem of the Ocean a few years back. Phillips' Panza had great affection for his mule Dapple, an elaborate tricycle sort of beast. Quixote's steed was an animate object: Rocinante was played by James Jesse Peck (front) and Anna-Lisa Chacon (rear). Alas, poor Peck has spent his summer inside a horse's head. At least we could see Chacon's face.

Duran was great as always; earnest and dreamy and pure as the hero of our show. (The festival photos by David Cooper show Duran, at left, with the Peck half of Rocinante, and Phillips, above, riding Dapple.)

In the end Don Quixote matches everyone up properly and rides off into his sunset. It doesn't hurt to dream.

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