Quixote Nuevo – Review by Bonnie Goldberg

Growing older isn’t for sissies. The process can be painful, as in sore joints, or difficult, as in forgotten and unfulfilled dreams and worrisome and troublesome memories. What happens if you look back at your past and want to change your choices? Is there such an act as a “do over”? For one poor Mexican immigrant, Jose Quijano, the answer is easy: he is willing to risk life and limb to right the past and correct his mistakes.

For Latino playwright Octavio Solis, the leap from the delusional but impassioned Don Quixote of Cervantes’ mind to a present day old man living in La Plancha, Texas on the Mexican border is easily accomplished.

The Hartford Stage, in association with Huntington Theatre Company and the Alley Theatre are presenting “Quixote Nuevo” until Sunday, October 13.

Jose is more than ready to take up sword and shield and become a gallant knight of old. Weary himself and suffering from the beginnings of dementia, he, nevertheless, mobilizes his “last ounce of courage” to “dream the impossible dream.”

When his family prepares to have him move into an assisted living facility, which he refers to as a living death facility, Jose recognizes he can postpose his glorious quest no longer. He must right the wrongs against his one true love Dulcinea (Gisela Chipe) and reunite with her in his heart. With the trusty and loyal aide Sancho (Juan Manuel Amador), the ice cream man, at his side, the pair set off into the desert, stopping at castles, seeking windmills and dragons, willing to stop at nothing to find “the queen of my heart.”

Once a mere professor teaching literature at a college, Jose is now on a tricycle as a soldier of virtue willing to protect the rights of the undocumented and poor, even if it means knocking down “walls” along the way. With colorful costuming by Rachel Healey, spirited Tejano music and a beautiful and bittersweet story, Jose, played by Emilio Delgado, whom you may remember as Luis, the handyman, on “Sesame Street,” is determined to rescue his angel. With flashbacks to his abused youth, Jose is determined to defend his love and embrace chivalry. KJ Sanchez directs this saga of tears and laughter as we cheer on our dubious hero who rallies despite the great odds. The play may be a challenge for the non-Spanish speaking audience, although there is a glossary to help.

For tickets ($25 and up), call the Hartford Stage, 50 Church Street, Hartford at 860-527-5151 or online at www.hartfordstage.org. Performances are Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and matinees Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m.

Enter into the mind and spirit of an old man who is plagued with good intentions and sets off on a worthy mission to finally give meaning to his life…and death.