Review: Dom Juan, The Vaults, Waterloo ★★☆☆☆

By Jordan Hayter

Celebrating the 400th anniversary of France’s most illustrious and popular master of satire and the stage, Molière, Theatre Lab Company, and Exchange Theatre present Dom Juan at The Vaults, Waterloo.

Dom Juan is an abstract play, using different techniques such as masks and movement, to tell the story of a playboy’s last day alive in a decaying Venice Carnival. Dom Juan is a known adulterer – a charming, egocentric philanderer that we follow throughout the production, played by Dimitri Jeannest. His performance captures the dual sides of our lead, the charismatic flirt who the audience falls in love with, and the flawed human being behind the surface. As the play continues, you begin to see his darkness grow, ultimately leading to a catharsis once he meets his end.

David Furlong as Sgnarelle. Photo: Hannan Images

The standout performance was certainly David Furlong as Sgnarelle, who is the first person the audience sees. He interacts well with the watchers during the pre-show, holding comedic conversations with nearly everyone as they take their seats and await the beginning of the production. His comedic timing is certainly the best in the show, with him dictating most of the jokes, whether intended or not.

The rest of the cast work well together and you can tell that they enjoy performing this show. They clearly have a love for performing which is such a delight to see. Most of the cast play multiple roles, using masks and capes to transform into new characters. This is done effectively, and you can’t tell who is who half the time.

Dom Juan at The Vaults, Waterloo. Photo: Hannan Images

While the performers do their best, the plot is lacking. It is very difficult to understand what is going on throughout most of the production as you are sent from scene to scene without much context. Characters and plotlines are introduced one second and immediately forgotten the next which leads to a very confusing watch.

This is not assisted by the fact that the actors, who clearly know their source material very well, often speak too quickly. This causes the audience to lose track of the already fast-paced scenes. The experience is all-round still enjoyable, with laughs coming every now and then, but in terms of knowing what’s happening, this is not the show for you unless you already know the plot.

Dom Juan is at The Vaults, Waterloo until 29 May 2022The production is performed alternately in French and English.

Jordan Hayter is an upcoming journalist, specialising in theatre, from Dorset. You can find her on Twitter @ReporterJordan