Students from the Department of Drama & Dramatics of Jahangirnagar University recently staged the musical production, Man of La Mancha, at the National Theatre Hall of Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy. Written by Dale Wasserman and inspired by Miguel de Cervantes’ 17th century novel, Don Quixote, the play is translated by Abdus Selim and directed by Yusuf Hasan Arko. The original 1965 Broadway production won five Tony Awards, including Best Musical.
The plot of the novel revolves around the adventures of a noble man from La Mancha named Alonso Quixano, who reads so many chivalric romances that he loses his mind and decides to become a knight-errant to revive chivalry and serve his nation, under the name Don Quixote de la Mancha. He recruits a simple farmer, Sancho Panza, as his landowner, who often employs a unique, earthy wit in dealing with Don Quixote’s rhetorical monologues on knighthood, already considered old-fashioned at the time. Man of La Mancha, on the other hand, tells the story of the ‘mad’ knight Don Quixote as a play within a play, performed by Cervantes and his fellow prisoners as he awaits a hearing with the Spanish Inquisition.
The play follows an episodic narrative, starting off with a chorus, during which Cervantes (Shoron Charraborty), makes his first appearance. Soon, Don Quixote (Tanjim Hasan) takes over with his comical hallucinations, paving the way for his first meeting with Aldonza Lorenzo (Shahinoor Preeti).
The team behind the production successfully transport the audience to the 17th century from the beginning of the story, with the brilliant costumes and set design. The impeccable comic timing of the cast, paired with the scintillating music by Yusuf Hasan Arko, make the play immensely enjoyable. Moreover, the actors do a brilliant job singing with a live orchestra.