With Rossetti being an architype Don Juan figure I thought it might be interesting to go and see DON JUAN.WHO?, a co-production between Mladinsko Theatre and Athletes of the Heart, directed by Anna Furse at The Shunt. What could I glean from their year of research into the idea of the 'womaniser'? I hadn't witnessed anything which promised to be so new and innovative, for a long time. So many people believed in the project, which had begun in an international internet cyberstudio, and they had received support from major funding bodies including The Arts Council, British Council, Goldsmiths and The British Academy.
THE SHUNT was an exciting place, under the arches at London Bridge, swarming with young intellectuals. It smelt of damp brickwork and ancient dust. Ironically, I was reminded of the the alleyways in Urbino, where Raphael was born; the man Rossetti loved to hate. Sadly, I learned nothing new from the production. This was the kind of theatre I had watched at the ICA in the 70's and 80's and gave me the same uneasy feeling that I wanted it to end, and soon, to put me out of my pain. There were moments of brilliance like the image of three men having pillows thrown at them by the female performers, who shouted abuse at them. The pile of pillows grew and grew until the men were almost obliterated. I could not fault the performances, which were superb. It was with awe that I found myself watching Giovanna Rogante, who had worked with Barrault, Decroux and Grotowski.
Unfortunately, all I discovered was that women hate the Don Juan male and yet they want to possess him. Yet, he is unobtainable because they have been responsible for inventing him in the first place and that even women can be a Don Juan at times... This came dangerously close to the idea that women are masochists and like being raped and abused. Rather than being a new concept, I think that these are the kind of ideas we moved away from a long time ago. So, it was no help, although an interesting experience.