‘Utterly brilliant’: Faustus review

The evening starts with a charmingly dressed gentleman on the stage, and a soothing voice purring from him welcomes the audience to the tale of the power and greed of one Dr Faustus.

From beginning to end, Danny Partington portrays the devil in a deliciously evil manner, causing the audience to be drawn into him and the story that he tells. Partington’s voice is so alluring it is easy for the audience to understand how Faustus gets drawn in and taken under the devil’s wing. As the narrator of the piece, Partington maintains his character constantly – from stage to audience participation his characterisation never falters. The utterly charismatic nature of Partington himself shines through in his character, making it utterly impossible to believe he is anyone but the Prince of Hell. 

The cast’s stunning portrayals continue with Matt Ogden’s reimagining of Mephistopheles, the devil’s right-hand man. Instead of a cowering demon who is fearful of Lucifer, Ogden presents a stunningly seductive character in both movement and vocality. His performance intertwines with that of Partington flawlessly giving the audience a sleek understanding of how the pair work together to steal Faustus’ soul. The highlight of Ogden’s performance is in the scene where Mephistopheles and Faustus (Joe Medlock) become one: the two actors perform mirroring movements in a moment of physical theatre that  allows the audience to truly understand how twisted and dependent on Mephistopheles Faustus has become. 

The set design is simple and intimate, working brilliantly to allow Partington to captivate the audience without distraction and tell the story he wants. The same can be said for the make-up and costume, simple yet effective, with the demons and Lucifer wearing simple black masks to highlight their allegiance and inhumanity, while Faustus’ lack of dramatic face-paint shows he is clearly the outsider, sporting a clean face. 

The use of lighting is extremely effective in a scene which presents  the Seven Deadly Sins, where each sin is bathed in a different hue. Ogden’s talent shines through once again here, as he exquisitely creates an entirely different character and accent for each sin. 

A small downfall of the performance is the lacklustre performance given by Joe Medlock in some of his character’s most intense scenes. Although Medlock demonstrates some very  successful performances, giving an impressive understanding of the way Faustus is compelled by the devil, this is taken away from by the lack of intensity and volume during the most heartbreaking scenes in the play. Medlock could portray his character in an even more exciting manner by pushing his vocals to louder and more fierce extremes. 

Overall, this show is utterly brilliant and truly enjoyable, the four-man cast (including Jordan Garside as Sin) work excellently together and it’s difficult to feel anything but entertained by the end of the evening.

 

The Marauders Theatre Company: Faustus will run at TheSpace @Surgeons Hall from the 8th-10th of August at 21:15. 

Buy tickets here

Image: Ben Steadman, @steadmanart

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