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Don Juan, Here and Now

In 'Man of the Flesh,' Octavio Solis updates and transports the tale to today's Southern California, giving it some clever touches.


Octavio Solis transposed the Don Juan legend to Southern California in "Man of the Flesh," now at the Long Beach Playhouse's Studio Theatre after earlier productions at South Coast Repertory and San Diego Repertory.

It's clever, and much of it is brightly staged by director Bill DeLuca. But it finally emerges as a rather straightforward morality tale, compared to some of the other versions of the story. A stereotyped Latin lover deservedly and predictably gets a royal comeuppance.

Fresh from impregnating a trio of neighborhood women--two of them teens--Juan Tenorio (Jorge E. Cordova) is reluctantly working for his father's East L.A. lawn care company at the home of an Orange County client when he meets Anne Downey (Patricia DeLaunay), one of the two teenage daughters in the house. He falls in love, or so he believes. But before he can seduce her, he must first cope with the girl's sister and mother, as well as his fellow worker Luis, brother of one of his earlier conquests.

The ghost of his late mother also shows up, for she used to tend the kids in this house, and the story is set on the Day of the Dead (when Don Juan plays are frequently performed in Mexico). Solis briefly lets Juan suggest that her devotion to her employer's kids and neglect of her own may have something to do with Juan's adult behavior, but he doesn't pursue it. So we're left with nothing but to smile at the seduction farce and then sit back and enjoy Juan's supernatural punishment.

Five of the actors play two roles, some more assuredly than others. Alejandro Patino is amusing as the couplet-spouting narrator-sidekick. Snezana Petrovic designed a colorful Day of the Dead set.


"Man of the Flesh," Long Beach Playhouse Studio Theatre, 5021 E. Anaheim St. Fridays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; May 18, 2 p.m. (with two understudies). $10-$15. (562) 494-1616. Running time: 2 hours.

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