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Photo: Plan B Productions

Theatre Review: #Faustus at The Gladstone—until 02.09.19

By Samara Caplan and Laura Gauthier on February 2, 2019

By Samara Caplan and Laura Gauthier. Laura and Samara spend their days as non-profit unicorns and fill every spare minute exploring the world of musical theatre as BFFs (that’s Broadway Friends Forever).

Editor’s note: Weird: The Witches of Macbeth and #Faustus are on at the Gladstone—make it a double bill and save on your tickets. Check out Samara and Laura’s review of Weird: The Witches of Macbeth here.

Laura: #Faustus takes the well-known adage of selling one’s soul to the devil for unlimited power and gives it a modern twist – the internet. Along with that comes a pretty impressive audio-visual setup for the staging. Simple, stark, but powerful images, are projected and used to interact with the title character and his demon agent of Satan, Mephistopheles (played by Steph Goodwin). #Faustus is a compact, wild ride through the abuse of power and sins. It’s fast-paced and kept me on my toes.

Samara: Selling your soul for your biggest desire isn’t a new concept, but the show’s mix of old English text with modern day events and technology adds an interesting juxtaposition between two different time periods.

#Faustus is a compact, wild ride through the abuse of power and sins. It’s fast-paced and kept me on my toes.

Laura: Yes, and William Beddoe does impressive work with the dialogue, which is often tongue-twisting, and has some Latin thrown in for good measure. I did find it a bit quick at times which sometimes made it harder to follow.

Samara: There is also a point where Mephistopheles wears a mask in order to assume a different identity and the fast-paced, high-brow dialogue was further muffled by the mask and even more difficult to follow. Luckily it was only for a short scene.

Laura: Still, both actors had impressive timing to match audio-visual cues pre-recorded and projected onto the stage in various ways. The AV really helped drive the show.

Photo: Plan B Productions

Samara: Actually, I found that the tech set-up—though very interactive and different from most shows I had ever seen— something about it did seemed a bit dated. It may have just been that the overall visuals were just dated but it reminded me a bit of Blade Runner and the type of graphics “of the future” that you would see at that time.

Laura: Some parts definitely reminded me of code in The Matrix or similar pop culture, but I noticed they had updated the news headlines from when this ran at the Fringe Festival, because there were clearly references to current-day stories. What you found dated didn’t get my attention really.

Samara: I struggled through most of the show to really understand what was happening, but I do think that was mainly due to the fact that I was probably not the target audience for a show like this. It seems that it would really appeal to big sci-fi fans – the tech drives most of the show and helps to show the struggle for power in a different light.

It seems that it would really appeal to big sci-fi fans – the tech drives most of the show and helps to show the struggle for power in a different light.

Laura: True, and neither of us were actually familiar with the classic tale of Doctor Faustus, which probably would help know the overarching storyline at least. Overall we had a great night seeing a double bill of classic tales retold onstage along with Weird: The Witches of Macbeth presented right before this. The two shows have similarities in theme but have very different takes which made for great conversation after the shows and an interesting comparison to contrast the two styles.


#Faustus continues at The Gladstone Theatre until Saturday, February 9th. Shows are Tuesday to Saturday at 9pm, Sunday matinee at 2:30pm. Tickets are $23. Discounted tickets are available if you wish to see it as part of a double bill with Weird: The Witches of Macbeth. The show runs about 60 minutes with no intermission.


 

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