Dr Faustus is an ambitious play to take on, and the team behind this production clearly had talent, interesting ideas and a unique vision; however, not all parts of this came off in performance, perhaps due in part to the inflexibility of the material.
Georgie Murphy impressed wonderfully as the tormented Dr Faustus, delivering her lines with great clarity and depth, and Thea Keller had flashes of great energy as Mephistopheles. It would be a discredit not to mention the performances of Miranda MacKay and Matt Roberts, who stood out hilariously as the comic characters. My quibbles with performances were small: a few cast members suffered from under-projection, a problem noticeable during performance but easily rectified, and there was a lack of consistency in energy from some which did affect the overall experience.
Many stylised elements of the play worked well – impressive choreography by Alice Baldock made for haunting and atmospheric scenes involving the seven talented dancers, and Mark Riley and Ed Maclean’s sound made a perfect backdrop for these sections. These contrasted sharply with the almost casual presentation of the two angels (Anusia Battersby and Laura O’Driscoll), who constantly surveyed the events from a platform at the side of the stage. Their being part of the supernatural fabric of the play would surely warrant a more stylised presentation; naturalism in physicality and delivery seemed somewhat incongruous with the rest of the production. This was one of several instances, I felt, where the stylised aspects could have been put to more use, playing to the production’s strengths and creating something riskier, perhaps, but more exciting. I felt a certain detachment from the story, feeling somehow very much like a distant spectator of the events rather than being fully drawn in to the world of Faustus. I do believe some of this overall sense came from the material itself – I’d never seen the play before, and I was not excited or enthralled by the writing or the story. In light of this, the production did a good job of modernising and injecting some life into Marlowe’s classic.
Dr Faustus is a production that seemed to be almost there; it had all the materials for a great show and displayed sections of brilliance, but it just didn’t push its assets far enough. Credit is due for some wonderful talent in the cast and crew, and their work did not go unappreciated – but as a whole it wasn’t as exciting as I had hoped it would be.