by Kit Marlowe
Plan B Productions
49 min / Drama, Play / Mature
It’s not often that a Fringe show is based on a script by Christopher (Kit) Marlowe, a contemporary of Shakespeare. Even rarer that it is executed as well as Plan B Productions’ admirable #Faustus.
The story of Dr. Faustus—his prideful lust for knowledge and therefore for absolute power, his invocation of the demon Mephistopheles who mediates his pact with Lucifer—is a seminal story of Western civilization. Does it have relevance in 2018? Indeed it does!
The words are Marlowe’s (somewhat abridged), the staging of the 21st century. The director, Graham Price, achieves a seamless marriage of the two.
One of the most striking aspects of this production is its sophisticated use of video, courtesy of Andrew Alexander. Before the play commences, there are projections of recent headlines about the Internet, blockchain, Russian trolls, driverless cars and so forth, with a background of scrolling computer code. During the play, these morph into a panoply of visuals of man’s inhumanity to man that support Mephistopheles’ assertion that “This is hell!” There are even videos that Faustus manipulates with that familiar swipe motion, and a chilling video of Lucifer himself. #Faustus makes one of the most—if not the most—effective use of video I’ve ever seen on a theatre stage.
Then there’s the acting.
William Beddoe is perfect in the role of Faustus. He speaks Marlowe’s lines beautifully. He’s also a thoroughly modern man, particularly when he is revelling in the Seven Deadly Sins via a virtual reality system, or ecstatically manipulating various recent disasters (the 2008 financial meltdown, the refugee crisis, a plane crash, nuclear war) via an iPad.
Steph Goodwin is, unfortunately, the weak link in the play. She’s not quite evil enough as Mephistopheles, though she does have a sinister smile. Worse still, I sometimes found her inaudible, so much so that I had to guess what she was saying to manipulate Faustus. I wish Price, the director, had addressed this during rehearsals.
Nevertheless, I recommend #Faustus as a polished, professional piece of theatre featuring a superlative use of video.
#Faustus by Kit Marlowe is playing at Arts Court Theatre (2 Daly Ave) until Sunday June 24, 2018. Tickets cost $12 online and at the door. Visit ottawafringe.com for the show schedule and box office info. Read more reviews at apt613.ca/fringe.