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Thursday, May 22, 2014

Comic yet Darkly Charismatic ‘Giovanni’

Off the Wall revisits the classic libertine tale

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Dale Gutzman puts together an entertaining comedic drama with Off the Wall Theatre’s latest, Giovanni. Jeremy C. Welter plays the mythic 14th-century libertine with a degree of pompous flare. Welter stops short of a stylishly comic exaggeration of the Don Juan persona, but he has more than enough presence to keep the character darkly charismatic.

David Flores sympathetically plays Giovanni’s servant Leporello with charmingly precise heart and compassion. The master and servant relationship between Welter and Flores creates a fascinating dynamic. It would have been nice to see a bit more of this in Gutzman’s script.

The story involves Giovanni’s abuse of three women. Alicia Rice is cleverly stylish in her portrayal of Donna Anna, summoning tremendous sensuality in the role. Christina Mata brings sweet emotional simplicity to the stage in the role of the servant girl Zerlina. Alexandra Bonesho plays Donna Elvira, a nun who has fallen victim to Giovanni’s charms. Bonesho makes for a strikingly heroic figure as the lithe, diminutive young nun challenging the toweringly sinister restlessness of Welter’s Giovanni.

Off the Wall Theatre pulled together an interesting visual reality for the show. While the visuals of the final confrontation with the ghost fall slightly flat, lighting and costuming come together quite well for much of the rest of Giovanni’s two hours onstage.

Giovanni runs through May 25 at Off the Wall Theatre, 127 E. Wells St. For tickets, call 414-484-8874 or visit offthewalltheatre.com.