Taffety Punk Theatre Company finally squeezes the bitter juice from “Don Juan” at the big finish, when Tonya Beckman steps forward with a blistering argument in praise of selfishness and hypocrisy.
At that point Beckman’s haughty savagery almost pushes the show to a more universal level. It’s not that casting a woman in the role creates an arch irony ripe for #MeToo; the pronouns are left in place, and Beckman plays him as the well-known mega-jerk. Beckman acts the role because she can — several male parts are played by women — and if you want to satirize a reckless #MeFirst culture, Don Juan is a useful character.
Dan Crane’s pocket-size production in the Capitol Hill Arts Workshop doesn’t twist itself out of shape to hammer home modern connections. The costumes straddle centuries, suggesting today with a letter jacket for Don Juan’s servant (indicating he’s on the boss’s team), and suggesting Molière’s era with a flouncy shirt and fancy leather boots for Don Juan. The cast of six can speak the speech, especially Louis E. Davis as a peasant in broad comic mode and Chelsea Mayo as Don Juan’s regal betrayed wife.
And then there’s Beckman, swaggering above the fray and finally breathing fire when D.J. boasts about how he cynically games the system and keeps winning. Patrick W. Lord’s video projections give the climax a little extra scale as Don Juan gets what’s coming and goes to hell.
Don Juan, by Molière. Directed by Dan Crane. Lights, Paul Callahan; costumes, Jen Gillette. With Paul Reisman, Briana Gibson Reeves and Stefany Pesta. About two hours. Through April 21 at the Capitol Hill Arts Workshop. $15. 202-415-4838 or taffetypunk.com.