Doctor Faustus (4 stars)

Doctor Faustus

Photo: Keith Pattison

Dominic Hill and Colin Teevan's adaptation meshes the 16th-century poetry with modern day decadence

It turns out that there are several details the Elizabethan Christopher Marlowe left out of his play about the questing academic who sells his soul to the devil. Faustus was raised by a leopardskin-wearing slattern who fed him Haribo as he watched non-stop Nickelodeon. He grows up to be a swotty mummy’s boy with a penchant for the casual clothes once sold by Man at C&A. Plus, he has hidden shallows. Given the choice of all the sophisticated sins on offer to a young man who has traded his immortal future for 24 years of self-indulgence, he opts for pure cheese: celebrity, fame and the decadent glitz of Las Vegas. 

And Mephistopheles, the devil’s representative on earth, is a lady with the body of Jessica Rabbit (and, unfortunately, the voice of a dodgy sat nav). 

In the Citizens’ co-production with West Yorkshire Playhouse, director Dominic Hill and writer Colin Teevan hollow out the centre of Marlowe’s text and fill it with a 21st-century debate on why it’s wise to be careful what we wish for. The pair, who worked together on the award-garlanded Peer Gynt, mesh the 16th-century poetry with the lazy debauchery of today’s boil-in-the-bag pleasures until it’s hard to see the joins.

Casting Siobhan Redmond as the dangerously-curved demon is a brilliant idea. Giving her the weird, mittel-European accent – less so. Ann-Louise Ross as the good angel in a white marabou hat-halo and Oliver Wilson, a bad-but-hot angel in cowboy boots, add another layer to Faustus’ internal confusion. Kevin Trainor does a fine job with the verse and the physical demands of all the orgies and internal torment. Kally Lloyd-Evans’ exuberant movement pulls it all together. The devil has all the best moves.

Citizens Theatre, Glasgow until Sat 27 Apr.

Doctor Faustus Production Trailer

Doctor Faustus

New production of Christopher Marlowe's oft-related tale of mankind's desire for knowledge and power in which Faustus' pact with the devil sees him transform into a notorious magician to the stars, but at what cost? Co-production with West Yorkshire Playhouse and directed by Dominic Hill.

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