The tale of Doctor Faustus is tragic in story, metaphysical in nature, and in this production verging on celestial. The use of costume, set design and live music create a vision of a renaissance Garden of Eden, which is carried by an impressive cast of strong character actors. I won’t try and hide my prior love of Faustus which I brought with me to the Drama Barn, and for that reason I can’t comment on how a newcomer would find this as an introduction to the play, but I can say that this version provided an interesting spin on the material.
The cast and crew prove themselves to be beyond gender-bending, which could have been a gimmick or novelty for the play to fall back on
Although marketed as “an all-female production” gender is not an exaggerated component of the production, or one which compensates for weakness. So while pronouns are changed within dialogue, this directorial choice feels nature rather than forced, part of a grander vision of Faustus’s (or Eve’s) succumb to temptation. Most importantly, the cast and crew prove themselves to be beyond gender-bending, which again could have been a gimmick or novelty for the play to fall back on – luckily it never has to. Lucia Rimini as Faustus and Lucy Fourgs as Mephistopheles bring chemistry, excellent line delivery and passion to their performances which elevates the production. Fourgs especially brings the needed intensity to Mephistopheles and was a real highlight. The chorus too do well, admittedly best when they get to break away from the ensemble structure individually, as each one of the Seven Deadly Sins.
The play comes in at about an hour, a bit of a departure from other productions, for example the 2016 Kit Harrington rendition was 2 hours 15 minutes. To condense the material without making cuts is impossible, so maybe this is a case of personal preference, but some characters were underused to the point where they could have been omitted entirely (Wagner for example), and the comedic subplot has never been my cup of tea – though some in the audience very much enjoyed these parts. The Pope and friars however were very entertaining and credit to Burrows and the cast for pulling off a section which can sometimes feel extremely out of place among the more serious themes of morality and sin.
The production was professional and stylish, while still delivering the core themes and relationships underpinning Marlowe’s work.
Overall, the production was carried with confidence, aside from a few instances where prop use was a bit clumsy, for example it might have been more effective not to use fake blood which felt a bit too obvious in its set-up. Additionally, my choice of seat in the corner meant that I couldn’t see or appreciate the Lucifer staging device which only catered to middle section of the audience. Despite this nickpicking, the production was professional and stylish, while still delivering the core themes and relationships underpinning Marlowe’s work.
I can safely say that this production gave a fresh take on the material, and a wonderful introduction to Dramasoc’s work. I look forward to the next show I attend.
The team behind Doctor Faustus have created an accomplished and stylish production from very difficult source material.