Too much sanity may be madness-and maddest of all; to see life as it is, and not as it should be!
Man of La Mancha directed by Alan Paul (A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum) currently playing at Sidney Harman Hall, is a very ‘meta’ piece. This show within a show has us watching Miguel de Cervantes (the international renowned Anthony Warlow who lives up to his repuation) and his sidekick Sancho (local favorite Nehal Joshi (Mother Courage and Her Children, Oklahoma!) ‘perform’ his literary masterpiece for the benefit of his fellow prisoners, all the while questioning the nature of reality and truth. This classic musical from the fifties still seems surprisingly relevant to Millennials whose verbal lexicon includes ‘truthiness’ and who came to trust a ‘fake’ news show more than the supposed ‘real’ thing.
It helps that it’s a highly kinetic production as well. Prisoners and guards alike traverse on-stage cat walks and stairwells. The main crew is in character ‘performing’ before the show even officially begins. Paul’s vision is to stretch the stage to include the whole audience section as well.
The performances are uniformly excellent. Besides Joshi and Warlow, we have Rayanne Gonzales (My Fair Lady, The Music Man) having a high old time in the dual roles of the sour Innkeeper’s Wife, and Quixote’s hysterical housekeeper. And wow does she have pipes! Martin Sola is suitably affable as Padre and Dan Sharkey is commanding and regal as the Governor and genial but befuddled as the Innkeeper.
But the standout performance may be Amber Imam as Aldonza; she’s lush and fecund, radiating earthy sensuality one minute before exploding in rage at her harsh lot in life the next. When you’re blessed with an ensemble this gifted and some good songs to boot you can’t go far wrong, and the ultimate testament to the show is that the audience was moved to applause after every number.
Photos by Scott Suchman:
1. Cast of Man of La Mancha
2. Amber Iman as Aldonza andAnthony Warlow as Don Quixote
3. Nehal Joshi as Sancho. Anthony Warlow as Don Quixote, and Amber Iman as Aldonza
Note: Man of La Mancha is One Hour and Fifty Five minutes long-with no intermission.
Sidney Harman Hall
Shakespeare Theatre Company
610 F Street, NW