Regional Reviews: Washington, D.C.
Also see Susan's review of Venus in Fur
The company was founded by Paata and Irina Tsikurishvili, émigrés from the Republic of Georgia, with a mandate to bring together drama, music, dance, and other elements to create a new art form. Some of Synetic's performances are totally movement-based and incorporate no dialogue, while others, including Don Quixote, add language to the company's other tools. The program always includes a synopsis of the plot, but a viewer will never be bored simply watching the actors present one astonishing tableau after another.
Paata Tsikurishvili directed the current production and Irina choreographed to an original score by Konstantine Lortkipanidze, but neither of the founders appears onstage. Quixote is Dan Istrate, who earlier played the title role in Synetic's version of Dracula.
The first fascinating bit of surrealism in Synetic's vision is the use of ensemble members to portray the old man's stacks of novels: Quixote gets his initial inspiration to become a knightor loses track of his everyday lifeby ripping through these human "books." He also spies his nemesis, the evil Freston (Alex Mills, capable of almost unbelievable contortions), uncurling his body from a small box high above the stage.
The Synetic treatment is a perfect match for the fantastic elements of the story: without changing his costume, Istrate takes on the deliberate, stiff walk of a man wearing armor, and both he and his more clear-sighted friend Sancho Panza (Ryan Sellers) allow the audience to "see" their invisible horse and mule as they gallop from one adventure to the next. When Quixote sees the ragged peasant girl Aldonza (Natalie Berk), both he and the audience also behold the image of the knight's idealized Dulcinea (Francesca Jandasek) floating above. Berk also plays Altisidora, an imperious noblewoman who joins with a decadent Duke (Dallas Tolentino) and Duchess (Jessica Shearer Wilson) to have some fun at Quixote's expense.
A single designer, Georgi Alexi-Meskhishvili, created the non-specific set, which seems to have been made from industrial machine parts, as well as the colorful, character-defining costumes and props. Andrew F. Griffin's lighting diffuses a curtain of light through haze and creates wild landscapes in deep greens and reds.