Don Quixote

Previewed 27 October 2018, Opened 8 November 2018, Closed 2 February 2019 at the Garrick Theatre in London

A major revival of Miguel de Cervantes’ Don Quixote in London, in a stage adaptation by James Fenton, presented by the Royal Shakespeare Company

After a lifetime of reading books on chivalry, the eccentric old man Don Quixote heads off on a rumbustious quest to become a wandering knight accompanied by his faithful and equally ill-suited servant, Sancho Panza.

This production transfers to London's West End following a successful season at the RSC's Swan Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon.

The cast features David Threlfall as 'Don Quixote' and Rufus Hound as Quixote’s squire, 'Sancho Panza' - who are both reprising their roles from the original 2016 RSC Stratford staging. They are joined in the West End by Will Bliss Raphael Bushay, Farrell Cox, John Cummins, Richard Dempsey, Ruth Everett, Gabriel Fleary, Richard Leeming, Bathsheba Piepe, Nicholas Lumley, Natasha Magigi, Tom McCall, Joshua McCord, Rosa Robson, Timothy Speyer and Eleanor Wyld. Directed by Angus Jackson with movement by Lucy Cullingford, comedy direction by Cal McCrystal, designs by Robert Innes Hopkins, puppetry by Toby Olie, lighting by Mark Henderson, music by Grant Olding and sound by Fergus O'Hare.

When this production opened in London at the Garrick Theatre in November 2018, Sarah Hemming in the Financial Times hailed "this joyous show" that is "held in place by a superb double act at its centre. David Threlfall's spindly, wild-eyed, gravel-voiced Don Quixote is an immensely touching figure... and is beautifully matched by Rufus Hound's more earthy and practical Sancho Panza." Dominic Cavendish in the Daily Telegraph praised "the lively variety of James Fenton's pacy version, a model of supercompression." Ann Treneman in the Times wrote that "this adaptation by the poet James Fenton of Miguel de Cervantes's novel is a delight... Angus Jackson directs a production that has such a wonderful lightness of touch that, at times, it positively floats. The story is told by Fenton with touches of vaudeville and humour." Neil Norman in the Daily Express explained how, "one part King Lear, one part Max Wall, David Threlfall achieves just the right balance between reckless romanticism and heartaching melancholy as the old man of La Mancha. He is brilliantly supported by Rufus Hound as Sancho Panza whose quest for food far outweighs his chivalric intent." Henry Hitchings in the London Evening Standard described how "the first half has an anarchic verve close to pantomime including a food fight that sees the stalls pelted with bread rolls. Yet while the adaptation is a little under three hours, it still feels overlong and the second half runs out of steam." Quentin Letts in the Daily Mail commented that "it may be harsh to say that this show itself is a noble flop. Angus Jackson’s direction has moments of quirky invention, some spirited character acting and an inspiring central performance from David Threlfall as the deluded Don. But the plot is limited and the evening could do with losing at least 20 minutes."

David Threlfall is probably best known for playing the role of 'Frank Gallagher' in the Channel 4 television series Shameless. His London theatre credits include the role of 'Michael' in Dominic Dromgoole's revival of Frank McGuinness' play Someone Who'll Watch Over Me at the Ambassadors Theatre in 2005; the role of 'Orgon' in Lindsay Posner's revival of Moliere's comedy Tartuffe - in a translation by Ranjit Bolt - at the National Theatre's Lyttelton Theatre in 2002; and the role of 'Robert' in Roger Michell's production of Joe Penhall's play Blue/Orange at the Duchess Theatre in 2001.

Rufus Hound's West End theatre credits include the role of 'Mr Toad' in Rachel Kavanaugh's production of the George Stiles and Anthony Drewe musical The Wind in the Willows - based on the novel by Kenneth Grahame - at the London Palladium in 2017; the role of 'Freddy Benson' in Jerry Mitchell's production of the David Yazbek musical comedy Dirty Rotten Scoundrels at the Savoy Theatre in 2015; and the role of 'Francis Henshall' in Nicholas Hytner's production of Richard Bean's comedy One Man, Two Guvnors - based on Carlo Goldoni's The Servant of Two Masters - at the Haymarket Theatre in 2013.

This production was originally seen at the Royal Shakespeare Company's Swan Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon (previewed from 25 February 2016, opened on 3 March 2016 and closed on 21 May 2016) with a cast that featured David Threlfall as 'Don Quixote' and Rufus Hound as 'Sancho Panza' with Will Bliss, John Cummins, Ruth Everett, Gabriel Fleary, Gemma Goggin, Theo Fraser Steele, Natey Jones, Richard Leeming, Nicholas Lumley, Tom McCall, Joshua McCord, Bathsheba Piepe, Rosa Robson, Amy Rockson, Timothy Speyer and Eleanor Wyld.

When this production was seen in Stratford at the Swan Theatre in March 2016, Sam Marlowe in the Times commented how, "directed by Angus Jackson, it's a boisterous romp through the picaresque adventures of the mad knight and his fat squire that doesn't neglect the work's melancholy or its existential profundities. It's riotously performed by a winning ensemble and by David Threlfall as Quixote and Rufus Hound as Sancho Panza — a double-act of effortless comic elan and the production's generous, robustly beating heart." Dominic Cavendish in the Daily Telegraph hailed this "a taut, fleet-footed adaptation by the poet James Fenton... the evening, directed by Angus Jackson, not only delivers the frolicsome goods, it lets us glimpse the work's profundity." Ian Shuttleworth in the Financial Times highlighted that, "as the Knight of the Sorrowful Countenance himself, David Threlfall is all glittering eyes, extravagant white beard and two-foot waxed moustache... As the lazy, cowardly Sancho, Rufus Hound continues his admirable journey from stand-up comedian to skilled comic actor. Here he works the audience and the script alike, due in part to masterly guidance on both accounts." Patrick Marmion in the Daily Mail explained that in "James Fenton's slick adaptation... the cast have fun ad-libbing and teasing the audience with physical comedy... but such antiquated capering needs a leaner text and faster pace. With that, David Threlfall's deliciously deluded Don would be all the more amusing."

"If you struggle to read books thicker than your thumb, the RSC's entertaining adaptation of Don Quixote could be just the ticket. With a lively script by James Fenton and lovely songs, it compresses the 1,000-page sprawl of Cervantes's novel into a tight 2 1/2 hours. With his equine, affronted features, David Threlfall makes a terrific Don, the semi-senile upper-class twit convinced he's a knight errant who embarks on a quest - as his stout, redoubtable squire Sancho Panza (Rufus Hound) confusedly puts it - to "kill damsels and rescue giants in distress". Hound is a pleasant presence... But the mugging of the supporting cast forces laughs that would be better waited for. Straighter faces could also strengthen the main theme, which is that we all walk in delusion, creating our own reality." The Sunday Times

"The tale of the minor Spanish nobleman who sets off on a series of knightly adventures accompanied by his faithful squire Sancho Panza has long resisted adaptation. Orson Welles and Terry Gilliam were both forced to abandon their films in mid-shoot and a 1982 National Theatre production was a rare failure for Paul Scofield. It is sad to report that this latest version by James Fenton fares little better. There is no dramatic development in the series of disparate episodes as the wandering knight (more psychotic than quixotic in David Threlfall's performance) tilts at windmills, attacks a flock of sheep and a party of monks, and takes a mock journey on a model horse. An air of desperation hangs over Angus Jackson's production where even successful elements such as the puppetry are marred by the cast's shameless mugging. Threlfall looks perfect as Don Quixote but his over-measured delivery becomes monotonous. Rufus Hound's confident, relaxed Sancho is the show's main asset." The Sunday Express

"Angus Jackson's vigorous, brightly-coloured production of Cervantes' Don Quixote, adapted by James Fenton, received rave reviews at the RSC in 2016. In a year in which big family Christmas shows in London look to be a bit thin on the ground, this inclusive, big-hearted spectacle deserves to fill that gap nicely... David Threlfall brings a hollowed out gravitas to the role of the bibliophile knight obsessed with chivalric endeavour, who attacks windmills thinking they are giants and mistakes a flock of sheep for a marauding army... complemented by Rufus Hound as a pungent, knockabout sidekick Sancho Panza, who might appear the cowardly fool but in the end arguably sees more clearly. Hound sets the boisterous pantomime tone that powers most of the first half... As the two travel on their makeshift steeds, gaining much notoriety for their non-deeds, the tone becomes crueller and more complicated, reflecting the meta narrative tricks of the novel's playful part two. Fenton makes fine work of a story that is episodic and multi-faceted, although that said, the show could lose half an hour without tears... But it's still a treat - and a poignant tribute to the role of stories themselves." The London Metro

Don Quixote in London at the Garrick Theatre previewed from 27 October 2018, opened on 8 November 2018 and closed on 2 February 2019