Theater Info for the Washington DC region

Synetic Theater Don Quixote

By • Jun 8th, 2011 • Category: Reviews
Don Quixote
Synetic Theater
Crystal City Theater, Arlington, VA
Through July 3rd
2:00, with one intermission
$40-50/$5 discount for Seniors and Military/Half off for under 25
Reviewed June 5th, 2011

Don Quixote is a new play written by Roland L. Reed, based on Miguel de Cervantes’ novel. It tells the story of a knight named Don Quixote, one of the last remaining Spanish knights. He attempts to save the world and rights life’s wrongs in the hopes of winning the fair maiden. Unfortunately Don Quixote has been dipping in to the sacramental wine a bit too much and his attempts to save the world, although honorable turn out to be chasing windmills and being beat up by the convicts whom he has set free. His faithful companion Sancho Panza is there with him through to the bitter end.

After several years of hearing about Synetic’s dance/theater shows, it was finally time for us to see one in person. What we saw in Don Quixote matched nearly perfectly what we were expecting. The choregraphy by Irina Tsikurishvili and fight choreography by Ben Cunis was breathtaking. Georgi Alexi-Meskhishvili’s set was very simple, a large round wheeled platform, and a series of shelves and handholds on the upstage wall of the stage. Andrew Griffin’s light design incorporated shadows cast on the walls of the house, and highlight effects through the fog. Despite the occasionally loud volume, Konstantine Lortkipanidze’s original music was effective in setting the scene. The effect of the lighting and sound combined with streamers and black lights was unique and enhanced the story. The staging was minimalist, but one’s imagination quickly filled in the “missing pieces” and gave the audience much to look at. A suggestion, reading the synopsis in the show’s playbill when you get to your seat will definitely help you understand what is happening.

Don Quixote de la Mancha, the man with a dream, albeit dysfunctional, was played by Dan Istrate. His passion to fight wrong, defend women, and save the world is no laughing matter. Istrate applied his character with dedication and sincerity. His passion was real and in the end heartbreaking. Quixote’s friend Sancho Panza who became his loyal sidekick was played by Ryan Sellers. Willing to do anything to protect his master, Sellers was just as eager, if not always aware, of what was going on. He was a happy fellow who was dedicated to adventure and conquest. There was a nice sequence in the second act when Sancho finally became a governor. The entire ensemble cast was fluid and daring. They scaled walls, climbed in and out of rain barrels, in and out of caves and boxes, all with a fluidity that was remarkable. The warmup sessions before rehearsal must be something to watch!

Synetic combined dance, light effects and music in a creative way to tell the classic story Don Quixote.

Director’s Note

This season, Synetic has performed on water, on sand, and even in Moscow! But with Don Quixote, I return to the minimalism and simplicity of how we first began. The art and architecture of Spain where this story was born has always been richly surreal but interwoven with romantic idealism. These qualities are reflected in Cervantes’ storytelling that, on the surface talks of the absurd and the imaginary, but at its core unveils the very nature of human ambition. Thus, my Don Quixote is an exploration of character, motivation and yearning, set in a Dali/Bosch-esque world that is comedic, abstract and imaginary and seen through Quixote’s eyes in a sequence of short stories.

One of Cervantes’ contemporaries (and Synetic’s good friend) William Shakespeare once penned, “the very substance of ambitions is merely the shadow of a dream.” This notion, that ambition and dreaming are hopelessly intertwined, that the drive to achieve greatness is sometimes nothing but awaking dream, is a central theme in Don Quixote. The old knight’s fantasies and foolhardy campaigns are all manisestations of this romantic ambition to selflessly do good in the world. But paradoxically, the fantasies themselves engulf his reality and begin to direct his very ambition. Quixote wants to free the world of evil, as if it were an external foe that could vanquish forever. But the evil he fights lives in his mind and can never be eradicated, always returning to pose a new challenge that he must overcome.

We are all subject to falling into this trap. our dreams often take on a sense of false importance that we cannot see for ourselves. Rejecting reality, we choose to live within the uncompromising rules of our own imagination. As an artist, I admit that I am particularly predisposed to this failing. But one thing is clear, I know where my imagination lies. It lies within Synetic. Onward and upward!

As always, thanks to my faithful actors, designers and staff, who continue charge at every challenge along side me. Without them, I could not imagine the artistic accomplishments we have achieved thus far. Thanks to our audiences, donors, volunteers, and DC theater community as a whole for their continued generosity and support.

And finally, as Synetic moves into the next phase of our lifecycle, we sincerely thank our Board of Directors for their commitment, counsel, and support, with special thanks to our Board Chair, Jeffrey Schragg, for his outstanding service over the past years.

Paata Tsikurishvili, Founding Artistic Director, Synetic Theater

Photo Gallery

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Photos by Graeme B. Shaw


  • Don Quixote: Dan Istrate
  • Sancho Panza: Ryan Sellers
  • Freston, Peasant, Guard, 1st Damsel: Alex Mills
  • Altisidora, Aldonza, Ensemble: Natalie Berk
  • 2nd Damsel, Ensemble: Katherine Frattini
  • Andrea, Ensemble: Brittany O’Grady
  • Dulniea, Ensemble: Francesca Jandasek
  • 1st Convict, Fool, Ensemble: John Robert Keena
  • Altisidora’s Servant, Ensemble: Domingo Quezada
  • Muleskinner, Majordomo, 2nd Convict, Shepherd, Ensemble: Ben Russo
  • 9th Convict, Duke, Ensemble: Dallas Tolentino
  • 5th Convict, Lion, Ensemble: Vato Tsikurishvili
  • Monk, 4th Convict, innkeeper, Ensemble: Ryan Tumulty
  • Duchess, Strong Woman, Ensemble: Jessica Shearer Wilson
  • Understudies: Kathryn Connors, Lauren Kieler, Geoff Nelson, Sean Pedersen


  • Directed by: Paata Tsikurishvili
  • choreographed by: Irina Tsikurishvili
  • Set, Costume and Properties Designed by: Georgi Alexi-Meskhishvili
  • Lighting Design by: Andrew F. Griffin
  • Original Music by: Konstantine Lortkipanidaze
  • Assistant Director and Sound Design by: Irakli Kavsadze
  • Stage Manager: Amanda Rhodes
  • Fight Choreographer: Ben Cunis
  • Vocal Coach: Elizabeth van denBerg
  • Assistant Costume Designer: Corey Searles Dunn
  • Assistant Lighting Designer: Brittany Diliberto
  • Assistant Scenic Painter: Samantha Wright
  • Assistant Stage Manager: Randy Snight
  • Additional Music by: Giya Kancheli
  • Music Consultants: Salma Qarnain, Eric Worcester
  • Graphic Designer/Photographer: Graeme B. Shaw
  • Videographer: Clint Herring
  • Technical Director: Phil Charlwood
  • Production Manager: Valerie Halstead
  • Master Electrician: Aaron Waxman
  • Sound Engineer: Chris Baine
  • Costume Construction: Anna Blanchard, Irina Evans, Philip Giggey, Azura Hussan, Yuliya Kolesnik, Elvina N. Verzchichinskaya
  • Electrician: Ryan Logue, Matt Shipley, Jeny Hall
  • Light Board Operator: Ryan Logue
  • Run Crew: Bradley Porter

Disclaimer: Synetic Theater provided two complimentary media tickets to ShowBizRadio for this review.

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