Quixotic

Quixotic

The idea of updating Miguel Cervantes’ Don Quixote to the dead-end environs of a bleak insurance sales office could potentially be a case of shoe-horning a premise into a new setting, but director Amanda Glaze’s crisply staged production of playwright Kit Steinkellner’s emotionally nuanced drama threads a fine path between reality, fantasy, comedy and tragedy. Scenic designer Eric Svaleson’s almost too believably drab office set is bathed in the horrific glow of flickering florescent lights favored by budget-minded bosses world over. Yet, the florescents morph into a lush golden glow when mild-mannered claims adjustor Arthur Quick (Isaac Wade) starts hearing music in his head — and he begins inexplicably to believe he’s the noble knight “Sir Quixotic.” In short order, Quick imagines his tightly wound and nonplussed boss, Allie (Coco Kleppinger), to be a tragic princess, an ambitious temp (Paige White) to be a demonic enchantress, and cubicle pal, nebbish Sam (Ariel Goldberg) to be his “squire.” Glaze’s briskly paced production boasts some beautifully subtle acting turns that are both energetic and organically believable. Although some plot elements in Steinkellner’s script play out more like an extended Saturday Night Live sketch, the work actually has us wondering whether Quick is delusional, or whether his co-workers are actually “enchanted.” Wade’s Walter Mitty–like shift from mousy Quick, to the throatier, more blustery Sir Quixotic is delightful, and engaging turns are also offered by Kleppinger’s brittle Allie, by Goldberg’s sensitive Sam, and Paige’s increasingly unpleasant temp. Powerhouse Theatre, 3116 2nd St., Santa Monica. Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; through Nov. 22. (310) 396-3680, Ext. 3.
Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m. Starts: Oct. 30. Continues through Nov. 22, 2008