Despite its weighty title, Four Humors’ “The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha,” now running in the Guthrie’s Dowling Studio, projects all the quirky, makeshift charm of a backyard production created by a pack of smart and snarky 10-year-olds.

From costumes that could have been rifled from a thrift store to sheep made out of puffs of cotton stuck onto Popsicle sticks and swords fashioned out of wrapping paper rolls, this company-created retelling of Cervantes’ 500-year-old masterwork unfolds like a children’s story. Don’t let that bare-bones facade fool you, though; there’s more going on here than meets the eye.

Routine interruptions from Miguel de Cervantes himself, played with smug self-importance by Dario Tangelson, and the appearance of a couple of plagiarists looking to profit off his work add a self-referential layer to the proceedings. Clever projections designed by Brant Miller and Nick Schroepfer and manipulated by the cast enhance the action and underline the artifice of the story in hilarious fashion.

Despite some unevenness, the ensemble under Jason Ballweber’s direction has enormous fun with this classic tale. Standouts include Miller, whose Sancho offers an engaging blend of nonchalance, broad comedy and deep-seated loyalty, Andrea San Miguel and Andy Rocco Kraft as a pair of jaded nobles and Ryan Lear in the title role.

This is an endlessly ingenious production that demonstrates the enduring appeal of the story of the quixotic knight even as it deconstructs his illusions and source material to wonderfully comic effect.

 

Lisa Brock is a Minneapolis writer.