Don Juan Comes Home From Iraq OFF-BROADWAY REVIEWS






Opening Night:
March 19, 2014
April 20, 2014

Theater: Wilma Theater / 265 South Broad Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 19107


Pulitzer Prize-winner Paula Vogel (HOW I LEARNED TO DRIVE) joins creative forces with Wilma Artistic Director Blanka Zizka, along with a full company of actors and designers, to develop a World Premiere production in Philadelphia, DON JUAN COMES HOME FROM IRAQ. Playing with time and space, this is a tale of one Marine’s return home from war and discovery that his lover is missing. Searching for her, he embarks on a surrealistic tour through the streets and history of Philadelphia. This collaborative project is inspired by DON JUAN RETURNS FROM THE WAR (written in 1936 by Bertolt Brecht’s younger contemporary Ödön von Horváth) and grounded in the experiences of recent veterans who often return from Iraq or Afghanistan to a home where most of the population has little direct connection with war

  • NEW YORK TIMES REVIEW OF Don Juan Comes Home From Iraq

    Returned From the Front, a Predator Still at War

    Charles Isherwood

    March 28, 2014: PHILADELPHIA — Under the destabilizing pressure of his wartime experience, not to mention the cruel workings of his own personal demons, an American Marine disintegrates before our eyes in Don Juan Comes Home From Iraq, a new drama by Paula Vogel having its premiere at the Wilma Theater here. The play was loosely inspired by Don Juan Comes Back From the War (1936), by the Austro-Hungarian writer Odon von Horvath, in which the Lothario of legend wanders through Berlin in the grim aftermath of the First World War in search of the woman he loved and scorned. Although it differs from the original in almost all particulars, Ms. Vogel’s play also concerns the odyssey of a man named Don Juan (Keith J. Conallen) who is haunted by the fate of a woman he became involved with after meeting her in Philadelphia between deployments.

  • THE INQUIRER REVIEW OF Don Juan Comes Home From Iraq


    Toby Zinman

    March 30, 2014: Wow. Paula Vogel's new play, Don Juan Comes Home from Iraq at the Wilma Theater, is a powerful anti-war play. It is also powerfully theatrical and emotionally and intellectually challenging. In other words, it's terrific. This premiere production, under the daring direction of Blanka Zizka, makes its timeless point at a remarkably timely moment, just when various sex scandals are making headlines as male military officers exert their power over the women under their command. Don Juan (Keith J. Conallen), up to his usual seductive, ruthless no-good, is here a Marine captain, back in Philadelphia after four deployments in Iraq, suffering from unbearable pain in his head and unbearable numbness in his soul.

  • PHILLYMAG.COM REVIEW OF Don Juan Comes Home From Iraq

    Don Juan Comes Home From Iraq Sheds New Light on Buried Stories

    Hannah Feinberg

    March 28, 2014: Don Juan is not in hell; he’s in purgatory. Well, he’s in Philadelphia, but it sure is infernal. The Wilma Theater’s latest, Don Juan Comes Home from Iraq, re-imagines the titular libertine as a returning Iraqi vet, searching for his lost love Cressida in a fire-and-brimstone iteration of Philadelphia. Here, he must battle his past and confront his present, which appear as hallucinatory jumps in space and time. The play, penned by Pulitzer-winner Paula Vogel and directed by Blanka Zizka, is beautifully staged and lit (courtesy of Matt Saunders and Thom Weaver) with brave, if somewhat incomplete, exploration of the moral conundrums of modern war.

  • NEWSWORKS REVIEW OF Don Juan Comes Home From Iraq

    Review: Still at war, 'Don Juan Comes Home from Iraq'

    Howard Shaprio

    March 27, 2014: What do you leave out? That may be a question for Paula Vogel, the celebrated playwright whose new work opened in a world premiere at Wilma Theater on Wednesday. It's a difficult question, especially after two years of research and collaboration with a theater company and its long-hired cast. If Vogel answers it, her sprawling, inventive Don Juan Comes Home from Iraq will fine-tune its focus – and its power will surge even more. Vogel's play about a Marine platoon leader who's mentally broken after his mission in Iraq honors anti-war plays over the centuries – one of them is the 1936 play Don Juan Comes Back from the War by Austro-Hungarian Ödön von Horváth. While Vogel's play is not an example of what's called "devised theater" – theater artists come together and collectively create a play and its production – it has some of those elements: Blanka Zizka, Wilma's artistic director, was involved from the beginning in 2011, the cast was hired early on to work during the play's development, and the process included many interviews with soldiers returning or on leave from Afghanistan and Iraq.

  • BROAD STREET REVIEW REVIEW OF Don Juan Comes Home From Iraq

    ‘Don Juan Comes Home from Iraq’ at the Wilma - A marine in freefall

    Steve Cohen

    March 28, 2014: This is a spectacular production on a serious topic. Throughout the one act, hour and fifty-minute drama we see creative stagecraft and striking visual images conveying the horrors of the Iraq war and its aftermath. Don Juan is a Marine captain who returns from Iraq suffering from trauma, partly the result of an incident we see in the play’s first scene. Dazed and hallucinating, Juan time-travels in a foggy world where historic figures such as Benjamin Franklin and Mother Teresa emerge and Juan has conversations with friends who are dead.



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