Don Juan

is a most energetic, irrepressibly gleeful and good-natured evening out. A Slightly Isolated Dog is the name of this assured young crew from Wellington, and they know what they're doing. They tell us they are "very famous and very French" and make Vanessa Paradis puns.

The episodic nature of the archetypal Don Juan story provides the basis for running jokes and fast-paced theatrics, directed with verve by Leo Gene Peters. It's more silly than sexy; delivered with delight, old gags feel fresh. There are bits of business with microphones and suitcases, and the happily cheesy music (Alanis Morissette, Beyonce's "Partition") makes people dance in their chairs.

From the start, the audience is part of the show and - thanks to the non-threatening joie de vivre and warm inclusivity - it works. The lights stay up, and hardly anyone is spared the loving attentions of at least one of the performers. We're all asked to help out, by making a forest out of wrecked umbrellas, and aiming finger guns at the laughing crowd across the traverse theatre.


The flamboyant dress code matches the stage personas: Tim Carlsen contents himself with a blouse and a brooch, while Andrew Paterson puts the rest of the cast to shame by complementing his beard with high heels and lipstick, finishing off the look with a white silky smoking jacket and a red chandelier bib necklace. Jack Buchanan does a great line in endearingly guilty expressions, while Comfrey Sanders is a sparky firebrand and Susie Berry makes a beautiful Donna Elvira.

After all the exciting shenanigans, Don Juan's end is rather anti-climatic and, at barely 80 minutes including a drinks break, they leave you asking for more. But that is the best small quibble to have, and this cannily fun show is wonderfully enjoyable and highly recommended, at $35. (Even if you don't like "naughty language", you should overlook that, just this once). Go, have a drink, and sit with your friends in the front row.

What: Don Juan
Where & when: Q Theatre, Loft; to Saturday, November 12