The tale is as old as time, a man makes a pact with the devil and in return he gains fame and fortune. Doctor Faustus was written by Christopher Marlow in 1592 and is perhaps one of the most recognized tales of man making a pact with the devil. The themes of greed and corruption still resonate today.
Revived at the Duke of York Theatre, Dr Faustus is brought back into the spotlight once again. The big draw card is its star, heartthrob Kit Harrington who plays our titled character. I would be lying if I didn’t say I brought tickets to see the show entirely based on its casting. In the beginning I didn’t care what the play was about, I wanted the chance to see Kit, but that all changed. I only had a vague appreciation of what the play was about, but knew little of its execution.
It delved from the weird and wonderful to the simply bizarre. Warned at the beginning there would be nudity I was not prepared for the blatant nakedness of two main characters as they stood on stage as living Christian imagery. Gratuitous or not, that is for you to decide. Highly satirical in nature, we are treated to a display of the devil’s current deals that include wayward priests, corrupt bankers and greedy politicians. Faustus could be anyone of us, sitting alone in our apartments desperate for fame and fortune to pluck us from obscurity. It talked of instants, laptop computers bringing us instant information, Hello magazine bringing us instant gossip and fast food brining us instants. What our heart desires, the heart can have.
The cast were simply amazing, though Kit is used as the draw card there is an insane amount of talent on stage from all walks of life. Kit Harrington will forever be my Dr Faustus, and that is not simply just because he is half naked in most of it. He commands the stage, using his voice and body to convey the inner torment of Dr Faustus as he comes to terms with the price of his deal with the devil. Kit Harrington is not another flash in the pan actor who survives on his good looks for work, but is a talented actor in his own right.
Jenna Russell plays the dark angel Mephistopheles who’s constant referral to earth as “hell” left me pondering the very notion. Jenna’s portrayal of this crazy, absurd dark angel who is narcissistic and downright evil was mind blowing; it was as if the role was written for her in mind. Jenna treats the audience to musical renditions of “devilish” songs throughout the interval, so be sure to be back in your seats.
Also worthy of mention is Tom Edden who played the good angel. His scene where Lucifer commands him to re-enact the seven deadly sins stole the show. Just watching this scene has been one of the highlights of my artistic career. Wow, is all I can say, it really does have to be seen to be believed. Tom Edden moved seamlessly through the sins, portraying each with amazing skill and accuracy.
Dr Faustus has not been reviewed all that well by critics who view it as a money making scheme using big names but it is so much more than that. This is the type of story that sticks in your head for days to come, leaving you wondering – would you make a pact with the devil if you could have everything you ever wanted?!
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Written by Theatre Reviewer Lisa Shaw for OnTrax TV