Most people have heard of Don Juan, the legendary womaniser, but a new production of Don John adds a twist to the character.

The year is 1978, James Callaghan is prime minister, the Winter of Discontent is in full swing and Don John has arrived to wreak havoc.

The play involves a range of characters from a vicar and his wife to a young couple and a jilted lover, who are all brought together by Don John who intrudes into each character's life with devastating effects. His reckless sexual behaviour and disregard for human beings leads to the characters seeking revenge.

The set looks like a carousel at a fairground ride with random phrases, like hell, being illuminated above the cast that add to the roller coaster of events.

Actors fill dustbin bags with unused props and toss them into corners of the stage adding to the reckless nature of the production, there is also a box which rolls out to reveal various rooms which keep the audience guessing what is going to happen next.

The Kneehigh Theatre, in association with the Royal Shakespeare Company, breathes life into the story by using classic 1970s music from Barry White to The Crystals and The Jam.

The character of Don John with his leather boots and skin-tight jeans is reminiscent of lothario Russell Brand.

Vicar Derek, played by Craig Johnston, who is betrayed by his wife, has an endearing quality that works well on the stage. Derek's character has some of the best lines quoting song lyrics from Grease to a disheartened congregation.

The play is essentially about sex and the problems it causes from the woman who drawn in by Don John's lies to Don John's seemingly moral sidekick Nobby who turns more devious as the play commences.

What makes Emma Rice's play different is the fact it pays attention to the effects of the main character's actions on the women, families and couples he destroys. Everything he seems to touch disintegrates, which is a lesson for would-be womanisers. 

The production may have a strong message, but it is told in a humorous way. Despite the topics of murder, death and promiscuous men, the close of the play - which ends with a treat after the curtain call restores faith in the world and ensures the audience do not leave the theatre with a heavy heart. 

Don John will at the Courtyard Theatre, Stratford upon Avon, until January 10 2009 and then on national tour. For more information visit