Monday, 12 May 2014

DR FAUSTUS at Djanogly Theatre, Lakeside

Members of The Nottingham New Theatre performed Christopher Marlowe's classic but controversial for the time, "Dr Faustus", under the direction of Lakeside's Martin Berry.

It's the story of John Faustus who wasn't satisfied with his lot and wanted ultimate power and knowledge, along with the seven deadly sins and, through his interest in ancient magic, he conjures up Mesphistopheles and sells his soul to the devil for 24 years of power and knowledge, and signed the deal in blood.

He spends his 24 years living it up and playing tricks on others to keep himself and the devil occupied and amused, indulging in all of the seven sins. This is why it's described as "the most controversial Elizabethan play outside of Shakespeare".

It's beautifully done by the young cast from the University, with Faustus being played by Tej Obano, mastering the rhythm of the text with ease and creating true drama from the dramatic character role.

Faustus' sparring partner, Mephistopheles, was portrayed by Andrew James Stevenson. capturing the devil may care attitude of Lucifer wonderfully, creating great fun out of Faustus' mischief, and knowing all along that he is in a "win win" situation. He takes great joy at the end seeing Faustus try and wriggle out of the deal, but being dragged kicking and screaming into the smoke filled hell.

There is a great thread of comedy interwoven throughout the play, joyfully spread by the ensemble cast, headed by Emma Kendall and Kati Hall, a nice deflection from the sinister main plot.

The set is very effective and makes the stage seem so much bigger than I remember. The special effects were employed with perfect timing , as were the crystal clear sound effects. Lakeside has one of the best acoustic stages I've had the pleasure of. Technically everything was just so spot on, and there is great use of the TV screens to count down Faustus' 24 years with great dramatic effect. Wonderfully effective lighting effects also add to the drama, at times creating a very sinister atmosphere.

I may be wrong but knowing the director, Martin Berry, and his love for Dr Who, I can see shades of the old style Dr Who effects and "fear factor", which worked so well within this particular story.

Personally I could not see anything to find fault with, not that I was expecting to either. It's a great classic romp, and although it was originally written in 1606, stories like these never seem to age and could be set in any era and still deliver it's moralistic message.

"Dr Faustus" is on at Lakeside up to Friday 16 May 2014.

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