Man of La Mancha – SQUIDS – Brisbane

Man of La Mancha, presented by the fairly young musical theatre society SQUIDS (South East Qld Independent Dramatic and Musical Society Inc.) was an engaging and enjoyable production.

Venue: Redcliffe Entertainment Centre (Brisbane)Friday, September 3, 2011  Man of La Mancha, presented by the fairly young musical theatre society SQUIDS (South East Qld Independent Dramatic and Musical Society Inc.) was an engaging and enjoyable production. The play is set in the common area of a prison during the Spanish Inquisition around 1594. Tax collector and poet, Don Miguel Cervantes and his squire Sancho have been incarcerated for crimes against the Church. The other prisoners descend on the pair and steel their possessions of which Cervantes begs to keep only one – his beloved manuscript. In order to do so, he stands a mock trial by the prisoners and re-enacts the manuscript using the inmates as the characters. This is where the play within the play begins.??Director Gordon Ball has an intimate knowledge and passion for this musical as he played the lead role of Don Miguel Cervantes / Don Quixote twenty years ago. And he knows how demanding the role can be as Don Quixote (played by Brett Hann), doesn’t leave the stage (even during interval!). Brett played the role superbly and had great stage presence. I especially loved when he transformed into the character of Don Quixote in front of our eyes; applying makeup, beard, and costume while beginning to tell his tale. The bar wench prostitute Aldonza, who Don Quixote in his madness mistakes her for the most beautiful and pure Dulcinea (played by Chantelle Hill), played the role with gusto. However, I thought her beautiful classical soprano voice could have been dirtied up a little to match the character. Cervantes trusty squire, Sancho Panza (played by James Riley), had great comic timing and was very lovable, although at times was hard to hear. Especially during the songs, the audio mix should have been a little higher (or parts of the band lower) as the band had a tendency to drown him out in parts. Apart from the audio levels, the Orchestral led by John Carey did a great job at bringing this Spanish flavoured score to life. Speaking of audio, this seems to always be the thing that spoils an otherwise great production. There seemed to be a number of drop-outs and missed cues. Did anyone else hear “Where’s my props”? I really don’t think it was in the script – enough said. The only other disappointing thing was that one of the characters had a very noticeable Aussie accent when everyone else’s was distinctly European in flavour. I was also a little disturbed by the young girl/older man matching onstage in the ensemble but in context of the era, this was probably more a comment on survival of the times and the way of life for the poor. The stage setting was very clever with the use of one massive set, with stairs leading to an upper level, and lit arches underneath which could have been used a little more for greater effect. The fireplace/oven down the front was also another nice lighting touch. The costumes were well done and I must mention the clever use of tap shoes for the horses – nicely done. Overall, a competent production with strong leads and an enjoyable evening out. 

Bobbi-Lea Dionysius

Bobbi-Lea is's QLD Co-ordinator, writer, reviewer, and reporter. She is also an actor, presenter, and theatre/film producer for Drama Queen Productions in Brisbane. Bobbi-Lea holds a Degree in Music Theatre as well as a Degree in Film & TV, and is currently doing her Masters in Screen Production.

Bobbi-Lea Dionysius

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *