New Citizens Theatre production of Doctor Faustus
Production features female Mephistopheles played by Siobhan Redmond
‘There’s something incredibly timeless about the story of the man who sells his soul to the Devil,’ says Citizens Theatre artistic director Dominic Hill, who is staging Christopher Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus in a co-production between the Citz and West Yorkshire Playhouse. Marlowe’s version of the great myth (which was first published, posthumously, in 1604) was the first to be written for the theatre. With its timelessness comes an almost infinite array of dramatic possibilities.
In the case of this Faustus (in which Marlowe’s text is adapted liberally for the 21st century by Colin Teevan), Kevin Trainor, in the title role, will be playing opposite a female Mephistopheles, in the shape of acclaimed Scottish actress Siobhan Redmond. Why a female Mephisto?
‘What sex is the Devil anyway?’ asks Hill. ‘Also, Faustus is a geeky, highly intelligent, but not necessarily very socially adjusted character. I wondered what the dynamic would be if Mephistopheles was actually a woman; particularly as Faustus is a man who hasn’t had much experience of women, and is potentially gay.’
This intriguing sexual dynamic aside, and for all the talk of the secularisation of western European societies, Hill believes we remain captivated by the play’s themes. ‘We’re still very attracted, as a culture, to notions of the supernatural, and of God and the Devil,’ he says. ‘Here you have a play in which an angel can walk on, or the Devil can walk on, and that’s part of the world in which the play operates. I find that very exciting.’
Citizens Theatre, Glasgow, Fri 5–Sat 27 April