Wherever performed, Doctor Faustus will always generate excitement and curiosity. Christopher Marlowe’s tragedy lends itself to a variety of different interpretations, as the story, in which the title character sells his soul to the Devil, certainly gives any director and cast a lot to play with. This production, directed by Matthew Dunster, doesn’t disappoint.

Paul Hilton excelled in the lead role of Faustus. He articulated his lines with a sophisticated air of intelligence and remained wholly engaged throughout his performance. When the stage was his alone he appeared to identify with every member of the audience, his wandering eyes ensuring concentration was a lasting token. He also worked superbly with Arthur Darvill, who plays Mephistopheles – their characters’ partnership brilliantly establishing its dangerous roots, as the play unfolded.                                                 

The personification of the seven deadly sins was an audible highlight of the performance…

Although Shakespeare’s Globe is an excellent and unordinary venue for theatre, the tragic darkness of Marlowe’s work was perhaps distorted and slightly lost in the matinee performance. Faustus’s ever-impending dramatic drag to hell happened under a juxtaposing bright sky at the capital’s Bankside. However, a lighter angle was created successfully by the contrastingly comical characters and the fire and butterflies, which sprung out from the Doctor’s books.

The personification of the seven deadly sins was an audible highlight of the performance in the opinion of the audience. Each are depicted craftily, and the extreme liveliness in the performance of Michael Camp, who plays Covetousness, made him a definite favourite.Whilst parts such as these almost transfixed the audience, there were also times (in particular when Faustus first meets the Pope), when unfortunately the performance seemed to pass time at a lingering pace.

The characters were always elaborately clothed; it was clear that expenditure was not in the least part restricted. The musicians added greatly to the performance and helped institute the mood in the open-air theatre. However, perhaps an evening performance would have been more effective.

Doctor Faustus runs at the Globe until 2 October.

Tickets start at £5

3 ½ Stars 

Image courtesy of Keith Pattison


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