“Don Juan? I love Don Juan,” said my fiancée when I asked her if she wanted to see The Erotic Anguish of Don Juan at the Yukon Arts Centre.
She loves Don Juan? I don’t get it. Don Juan was a cad who used women and left them
. I would have been just as surprised if she said she loved Tiger Woods.
“Don Juan makes no secret about his passion,” Duval Lang explains to me. “Tiger is a womanizer, but he does it under the radar while pretending to uphold the value of family and fidelity.
“But Don Juan is open. He says, ‘I’ll love you, and I’ll love others, but I’ll treat you magnificently’.
“He doesn’t treat women badly; he loves them; he focuses his attention 100 per cent on a woman.
“He is just not content to stay with that one person; he has a hunger to spread his love.
“Women feel they’ve been treated nobly, played like a harp, but they should not expect the same treatment tomorrow night.”
I knew Lang would be able to crack this nut for me. He plays Don Juan in The Old Trout Puppet Workshop presentation of The Erotic Anguish of Don Juan.
When in character, on stage, he will be helping Yukon Arts Centre audiences avoid the mistakes he has made. If he is successful – curing Yukoners of their sex addictions, I guess — he may redeem himself and go to heaven.
“But he starts seducing women in the audience,” says Lang, a shrug perceptible over the phone line. “You may see him go to heaven or to hell, but he definitely goes somewhere.”
Of the many narratives created to tell the story of the 15thCentury Spanish rogue and libertine, this one will be told using puppets.
This explains the Yukon Arts Centre’s delicious warning, “Contains Puppet Sex”.
“We see eroticism and we see anguish,” says Lang, “so, yes, puppet fanciers may be offended.
“With a human interacting with a puppet, there’s only so much you can do.
“It’s a safety valve; it’s a blend of shock and humour.”
Puppetry is a device that allows extreme exaggerations like, for instance, Lang’s character’s genitals.
It hangs out there for all to see and, embarrassingly enough, the audience can discern his, umm, level of interest in someone.
“The ‘unit’ is significant,” Lang says dryly.
And, yes, Lang says his friends are having great fun with his discomfort at portraying such an exposed Don Juan.
“They are envious, too, about the freedom to love as guys would imagine,” he says. “But they do laugh when they think I could be portrayed like that.”
The Erotic Anguish of Don Juan shows at the Yukon Arts Centre until March 26. Tickets are available at the Yukon Arts Centre Box Office, Arts Underground and www.yukontickets.com.