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Don Juan at the Stake

Don Juan at the Stake Stage review by Mario Fratti for America

Today I received numerous phone calls from friends (readers of "America Today" predominantly) thanking me for having suggested to attend the new play festival in October ("Culture Heritage Month") and that of November on Theatre Row. There they had confirmation that the two best postwar Italian playwrights are Aldo Nicolai and Alfredo Balducci.

They enthusiastically applauded "Not Fifth, the Ninth" (company theatrale Piero Dusa), and Balducci’s magnificent "Don Juan at the Stake" (Theatre Row). The clever, sensible director Kathleen Brant has chosen excellent players for this exceptional, original "Don Giovanni". We are in Spain during the reign of King Alfonso (the fun Brent Hankins) and in Italy today. It goes from past to present, creating interesting parallels.

The terrific Paul Singleton as Don Giovanni is ambitious and cruel, loves women from time to time, but wants truth, power and money. In the modern version in Italy, he prefers women and industries. The rich bride Anna (Maureen Hennigan) has an incredible, extraordinary wedding night with him; she strips, garment after garment. But the garments are in truth industries, companies which she possesses. Only when she yields her steel mills is the seduction complete. A beautiful, unique scene. It made me think of the principal Italians (Andreotti, Craxi, Berlusconi) who prefer the impressive, the power, and the domain of Italy. The universal theme plays (Hamlet, Macbeth, Don Giovanni) are valid in all times. It should be restaged in Italy, with the words of Balducci resonating into the hearts of viewing Italians. And all applaud the scene in which the protagonist ends at the stake.