I have never watched Game Of Thrones and until recently I thought John Show was a newsreader (I’m pretty sure he still is). So I wasn’t fangirling all over the place at the thought of going to see Kit Harrington in Doctor Faustus. But I was curious to see what it was all about so I went along to check it out.
Doctor Faustus (Kit Harrington) is in his bedroom, dribbling and in a trance, when ghost like demons with black eyes appear, foaming at the mouth, dripping with blood and some of them, completely naked. Along comes Mephistopheles (Jenna Russell with a newly shaved head), moonlighting as the devil and makes a bargain for Faustus’s soul in return for a life of celebrity, as a world famous magician. But is fame and fortune really all it’s cracked up to be and does Faustus really want the love of the world or would he rather just settle for the love of one woman?
The first forty minutes or so of this play is delivered in old Shakespearean English and then suddenly we are transported into a world of modern day language. By the interval we have seen on-stage masturbation, well choreographed dancing dead people and even a spot of air guitar. The interval entertainment is karaoke from the devil (Jenna Russell) who has the time of her life singing along to the hits like Meatloaf’s ‘Bat Out Of Hell’. By the time act two started and the US president was wearing a ladies night dress, I decided to accept that perhaps I wasn’t supposed to know exactly what was happening and allowed myself to be totally immersed in the show. So I gave myself to the devil.
Doctor Faustus has incredibly well choreographed dance numbers, great use of lighting and special effects along with a brilliantly disturbed and twisted direction by Jamie Lloyd. Set design is incredibly simple and the entire back of the stage is exposed for most of the show, allowing the audience to get a real feel for what the back of a theatre looks like when it’s empty. It’s incredible to look at and rarely seen in a production, giving a feeling of emptiness and suggesting how fame and fortune doesn’t necessarily make you feel any less alone in the world.
Kit Harington is good as Faustus but it is Jenna Russell who gives the stand out performance as Mephistopheles in this play, showing another side to her acting abilities and leaving me gasping for words to describe such an intense portrayal of a role. The rest of the cast form a very strong ensemble around the two lead characters and work together to create a bizarre and creepy world.
One of the most brilliantly mesmerising shows I have ever seen and unlike anything that has or probably will ever be done again, Doctor Faustus is not for the faint hearted or easily traumatised but if you’re up for something completely different, incredibly bizarre and unexplainable then go and check out this show. You might not be able to explain what just happened on the stage in front of you but it will certainly stay with you for the rest of your life, until you meet your maker. This show has to be seen to be believed, as I for one am lost for words.
Reviewed by West End Wilma
Photo: Marc Brenner
Doctor Faustus plays at the Duke of Yorks Theatre until 25 June 2016. Tickets