#DrFaustus, a wild & passionate production. My review @JamieLloydCo #London #KitHarington @DukeofYorksLDN
Before I begin my review of Doctor Faustus, I want to thank Jamie Lloyd and company for creating such a welcoming environment for the audience. The auditorium zinged with a party atmosphere, music, laughter, and people bringing in drinks, while Kit Harington sat on stage in a nineteen seventies style studio flat. A cleaning lady vacuumed and washed up in this weird space, of which more later. No bossy ‘mobile phones to be switched off’ announcement ever happened. I felt that the cast wanted us all to be there and to include us in their performance. The same positive attitude continued in the interval, when Mephistopheles entertained us all by singing. Yes, singing!!
This made for a great beginning. Doctor Faustus started without any kind of rigid demarcation between ‘performing’ and ‘non-performing’ by interweaving with the chatter of the audience, gaining my attention and focusing my mind on events onstage. Cleaners are often overlooked and this was the case with Wagner. As the play developed so did Jade Anouka’s performance, becoming a beautiful experience in the truest sense of the word. The revelation of her first name created a moment of clarity in the mayhem surrounding Faustus and personified the dignity shown by Wagner. Even when she became the target of Faust’s final grotesque and cruel act, Wagner remained whole, true and unbroken. She and Kit Harington showed total commitment when playing out this final scene, which I found unbearable but also a must watch.
Then the demons. Ahhhh the demons. The underwear. Yuk. The demons drew attention to the human body, especially to its least aesthetic functions. Lucifer, prince of light, as incarnated by Forbes Masson in his underpants, became brilliantly repulsive and hysterically funny. His appearance as the Pope, holding an illuminated statue, a big feature of the kind of ferocious Catholic girlhood that I endured, gave me maximum delight. And let us not forget, that once you’ve paid the price, Lucifer will give you anything you want. His production of caviar with black truffles was sickeningly grotesque and hilarious. This version of Doctor Faustus is full on and unrestrained. Be prepared.
Another highlight was the performance of the seven deadly sins by Tom Edden. Awesome. The same actor created a hauntingly tragic image as Faustus’s good angel, vomiting unspeakable stuff as Faustus signed over his soul to Lucifer.
Jenna Russell as Mephistopheles added her own tragedy to the corruption of Faustus. In moments of poetic beauty she conveyed the intense self awareness of Mephistopheles, how the memory of the wonder and glory she’d lost by being cast out of the heavenly realms gave her endless torment, layers of anguished regret and sorrow. I don’t remember the exact words, but she described the beauty of a garden in heaven, and how, in her rebellion and rage she’d burnt it. At the same time Jenna Russell was also incredibly funny. She added so much to this production, conveying the attraction of Mephistopheles, the cynic who loves.
Kit Harington performed with passion throughout, going through all the horrors with total commitment. He has natural charisma, but behaved as one of the company. No spotlit star actor effect went on here, a refreshing change. Certain powerful moments have stayed with me. Kit Harington spoke the line from Ovid, ‘O lente, lente, curite noctis equi’ (O run slowly, slowly, fast horses of the night) as if it was a magical incantation that could save him from his desperate fate. Again, he begged as a child to a parent. ‘Let Faustus live in hell a thousand years /A hundred thousand and - at last - be sav’d!’Alas, however, ‘O, no end is limited to damned souls!’ There is no redemption, the bargain must be kept. By now the flat is in chaos, Wagner’s order and cleanliness has been destroyed. The final image of Faustus rotating round and round, apparently holding someone, but with empty arms, is truly tragic. He has lost everything he ever loved. For infinite nothingness.
Doctor Faustus begins and ends with Marlowe’s play, with the central part written by Colin Teevan. This works well, as it enlivens proceedings, introducing the idea of selling your soul to celebrity world and bringing in references to current political leaders. Lots of gruesome fun!
Oddly, none of the reviews I read before going to this amazing play related to the production I experienced. Jamie Lloyd has taken on the full depths of meaning in Doctor Faustus, and made it a living and relevant experience. This was excellently, repulsively and humorously done, a true damnation of Faust and a cautionary tale. I won’t be selling my soul anytime soon.
Stunned. My one word reaction to 'Call to Juno', a passionate and inspired conclusion to Elisabeth Storrs' incredible trilogy. I can't reveal the ending.... no I can't say anything....except... the ending.... powerful truth. Vivid amazing images are still whirling through my mind.
Elisabeth Storrs has created a vibrant and totally believable world. I felt that I knew Caecilia, Semni and Pinna as friends. I sympathised so much with Marcus, his intense suffering at the denial of his sexuality, his valiant attempts to conform and to be a ‘noble Roman’. And the children. Each one has a distinctive lovable character. Again, no more must be said, but the children’s individual story lines are epic.
'Call to Juno' is a brilliantly evocative historical novel with themes that are relevant to all eras and places. Intense love, ambition, greed and lust for power are universal human characteristics. Omens and portents are not as codified in modern times as in ancient Rome and Etruria but still affect many people. Wherever you are, dealing with a goddess is always extremely tricky.
Most of all, this is a powerful love story. Caecilia and Vel Mastarna are now part of my inner imaginative world, archetypal lovers. I congratulate Elisabeth Storrs on her achievement. These are books to treasure and to read over again, and would make memorable and visually astounding films.
The Wedding Shroud www.amazon.co.uk/Wedding-Shroud-Tale-Ancient-Rome/dp/1477828559
The Golden Dice www.amazon.co.uk/Golden-Dice-Tale-Ancient-Rome-ebook/dp/B00ORBNEVK
Call to Juno www.amazon.co.uk/Call-Juno-Tale-Ancient-Rome-ebook/dp/B015C8VCF6
My ideal job description would be Merlin’s