Review: Doctor Faustus

By April Howard

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Doctor Faustus is a solid favourite of mine: an exciting yet tragic romp through the depths of the human mind and questions of heaven and hell, of the fall of man and of the faint hope of redemption. You can therefore imagine my hopes and expectations for this production, and Castle Theatre Company provide a very good rendering with a terrific cast. The standout performance of the evening is Bhavan Amar as Mephistopheles. Amar seamlessly traverses the boundary between being jovial, teasing and comic to fits of rage and anguish. also performs excellently as the tortured Faustus, with the audience holding onto his every word. Lewis perfectly conveys the dizzying intensity of Faustus. Each member of the cast it must be said performs with great expertise.

Director Emily Browning with her assistant directors Ansh Bhatnagar and Alicia Taylor have clearly great talent. The choreography is always impressive, especially during the interaction with the Seven Deadly Sins and the staging is incredibly well-done. The use of fake blood is also effective, providing a stark image for the audience, plus it is very smoothly done. Certain aspects also gave the play a unique flair, the use of confetti and a crown, the use of dance-like movement and the use of the space. The play is set in the round and the cast utilise this layout to the best of their ability. The intensity of the play is palpable and inescapable, the audience are kept in close proximity. Though, perhaps a smaller venue would be better for this style and atmosphere.

The choreography is always impressive, especially during the interaction with the Seven Deadly Sins and the staging is incredibly well-done


Despite its many positives, the production somewhat lost its momentum in the second half and a lot of the comic value is lost from then. The relationship between Faustus and Mephistopheles also needs some adjusting, perhaps a slow decay of relations between them would have been better. Additionally, my anticipation and sense of, admittedly sadistic, excitement for the final scene where (spoiler alert!) Faustus meets his doom and has his soul revoked to Satan was somewhat disappointed. Though the choreography much utilises the chorus, the panic and desperation and sense of doom and of a descent could have been achieved through a more dramatic rendering.

The cast are extremely talented and the play is interesting and engaging. It is a night of intense and blood-curdling theatre showcasing the finest of student talent here in Durham


There is also an inconsistency of costuming that confuses somewhat the setting and relevance, for example the use of pyjamas. Certain scenes made it clear that the setting is a mental hospital and therefore the context generally is one of mental illness and of hallucination bordering on the schizophrenic. The scene where this is most powerfully rendered is when Faustus summons Alexander the Great, no man appears and the powerful image of Faustus kneeling towards the back while two doctors exchange dubious looks is very well done. However, it appears like the production does not fully dedicate itself to this reading and therefore certain elements appear to need tying up.

Fans of Doctor Faustus and strangers to the Elizabethan play alike ought to see this production. The cast are extremely talented and the play is interesting and engaging. It is a night of intense and blood-curdling theatre showcasing the finest of student talent here in Durham.

Image credit: Castle Theatre Company

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

 

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.