INTERVIEW: David Tennant On Don Juan In Soho: "...Intoxicating And A Bit Terrifying"

David Tennant has given an interview ahead of returning to the West End stage in the role of DJ in Patrick Marber's hedonistic romp, Don Juan In Soho. Talking to Official London Theatre, David spoke of the director and cast and contemplated why we find characters like Don Juan so fascinating.

What is Don Juan In Soho all about?
It’s very loosely based on Molière’s play, in an adaptation by the very brilliant Patrick Marber, who’s brought it very much up to date and set it in Soho, in heart of London Theatreland. It’s a couple of days in the life of a very free-spirited chap, to put it politely… how can you describe him? He’s a libertarian, I suppose. I’d say maybe sociopathic. He exists for pleasure, his own pleasure and not really for anything else. He’s promiscuous on an almost psychotic level. He’s tearing his way through the ladies of London - and occasionally the gentlemen - in whatever way he possibly can, leaving carnage in his wake.

You say 'libertarian', which harks back to The Libertine being on in the West End recently. Why do you think we're seeing characters like these back on stage now?
I think, as a society, we’re all struggling with where we’re headed - there’s something about the idea of someone who genuinely doesn’t give a shit, that we find intoxicating, and a bit terrifying. I think that’s always been the fascination with Don Juan, I think we’re kind of torn when we see a character who is that free. It’s the temptation that we might be able to have a life like that, an apparently carefree existence. There’s something that teases us and thrills us and horrifies us about that kind of psychology. 

Are you looking forward to playing Don Juan on stage? Have you done any preparations to get into character?
Ha! What would those preparations be? The mind boggles. We’re halfway through rehearsals, so we’re quite into the world now, and we have our rehearsal room festooned in images from Soho. Someone went out and cleared a couple of phone boxes, we’ve got some Agent Provocoteur billboards that somebody found, so we’re trying to live that life, we’re trying to get into the red light feel. It’s a great bit of writing by Patrick, he’s created this extraordinary character, that just has this incredible spirit, and articulacy. He’s clearly an awful human being but there’s something utterly compelling about him, and so for an actor that’s a bit hard to resist.

Patrick Marber is directing this production. How is it having the playwright directing you?
Well, it’s very quick if you want the script tweaked! I’ve known Patrick for years but I’ve never worked in a rehearsal room with him before and I didn’t quite know what that would be like, but he’s very relaxed, he’s very in control. I don’t think every author necessarily should direct their own work, I think those are two skill sets that don’t always go hand in hand, but with Patrick they sit very comfortably side by side. It’s been a very happy, very creative experience so far.

You’re joined on stage by an incredible cast, including Adrian Scarborough and Gawn Grainger. How has it been working with them?
It’s been great fun. The majority of my stuff is with Adrian, who I first worked with 20 years ago, and he’s just one of those people that, if you’re on stage with him, your shoulders go down, you know you’re safe. He’s one of those people that are so brilliant to play with, and he’s so accomplished. He’s so funny and clever and inventive, and has a little bit of a twinkle all the time. I can’t think of anyone more I would more like to spend all those hours with on stage. But throughout the entire cast there’s some brilliant people. Gawn Grainger is also a very twinkly gentleman – he’s got so much experience, and brings such a weight and brilliance to what he does. And there’s a lot of people who people may not know necessarily, a lot of fresh new young actors, many of whom I suspect we’ll see a great deal more of.

Don Juan In Soho opens for previews at Wyndhams Theatre, London from 17th March 2017
For tickets visit

Photo credit: Helen Maybanks