Marlowe's 'Dr Faustus' was one of my 'A' level texts, 20 odd years ago (give or take) I knew it back to front, could quote chunks of it, and was probably all to ready to have an earnest discussion about it. I realised as we went into the theatre on Thursday night that I couldn't actually remember with any certainty how it finished...
Never mind, our first RSC trip of the year has fulfilled a 25 year old ambition to actually see the play and I couldn't have been more excited about it. I loved studying this as a teenager, and still find the idea of selling your soul to the devil (an ill advised thing to do) fascinating. What would your own personal price be?
Perhaps sensibly most of the low comedy sections have been ditched for this production, and as there's no interval either, there really are no distractions from the central relationship between Faustus and Mephistopheles. The night we went Faustus was played by Sandy Grierson, with Oliver Ryan as Mephistopheles but I see from the programme that both actors are playing both roles (I'd love to go back and see them switched round, but doubt I'll get the chance) which is intriguing. I like the idea of them being interchangeable, and the pair certainly have a compelling chemistry on stage that contributes to a genuine sense of menace around what's going on.
R's first comment as we came out was that parts of it had been truly frightening, and I quite agree with her. The music did it for me; there is a bit by the composer in the programme where he states that what they were looking for was "a mixture of the seductive and repulsive" something exciting, but also "sleazy, brutal and frightening" and that's what we got.
It's on until August and well worth the trip, it was also worth my personal 25 year wait.