A scattered but inspired audience received a relief from reality last Friday on the Kendall Hall main stage at Lyric Theatre’s production of “Man of La Mancha.”
The play, based on the novel “Don Quixote de la Mancha” by Miguel de Cervantes, takes place in the midst of the Spanish inquisition at the end of the 16th century.
The story begins with the imprisonment of Cervantes himself in a dungeon in Seville for an offense against the church.
The prisoners of the inquisition, however, demand a trial of their own, in which the playwright’s only defense is performing scenes from his unfinished manuscript of the famed delusional knight.
The audience watched with excitement as prisoners turned into players of Cervantes’ imagination and the elaborate set was repetitively recreated into hosts of Quixote’s various misadventures.
Cervantes, portrayed by Daniel Cameron, senior voice performance major, stepped in and out of the role of the self-proclaimed “defender of the right,” Don Quixote, who worries his friends and family in his refusal to acknowledge his real identity as the elderly Alonzo Quijana.
Aided by his loyal “squire” Sancho Panza, played by Michael Gasko IV, junior music education major, and the assumed affection of Dulcinea, played by Sarah Jablonski, freshman English and deaf education major, Quixote seeks escape from a time void of chivalry in a series of adventures involving ogres turned to windmills and omnipresent enchanters.
Both Cervantes and Quixote find refuge from the reality of hardships through adopting alternative identities.
“Too much sanity may be madness .And maddest of all, to see life as it is, rather than how it ought to be,” Cameron said as Cervantes.
Despite the serious undertones of the play, the audience found it difficult to suppress a chuckle at the disheveled Quioxote brandishing a bent sword and challenging windmills.
Both Don Quixote and his creator are eventually confronted by reality but ultimately prefer their fantasies to the surrounding human suffering.
Cameron said as Cervantes: “God help us, we are both men of La Mancha.”
Katie Brenzel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.