Doctor Faustus Review

On the 14th November 2012 we went to the Rose’s Theatre in Tewkesbury to watch Scene Productions perform the tragedy ‘Doctor Faustus’ which was filled with disappointment and unexpected aspects. However, it did bring forward a message throughout the play which is showed clearly and effectively. This message was that people who give into temptation because of greed get punished; this is based on a religious concept. At first we got told the whole performance was going to be an hour, this straight away made me have doubts about the play and allowed me to think that it was going to be rushed which I felt like happened. Despite this, there were some promising scenes which made me as the audience have a mixture of emotions.
When I first arrived into my seat, the first thing I noticed was the set placed on stage. It seemed like a very simple set, but also very effective. It clearly showed the time the performance was set and allowed us to have a personal interpretation of the character Doctor Faustus without even meeting him. Whilst the lights were still on and people were coming into the theatre, it seemed like the production started as we are first introduced to two characters walking around in a sinister sort of manor, whether it was because people were late into the theatre or it was planned, it was a huge distraction and it was hard to focus on the dilemma which is occurring on stage, as I kept on turning my head to the loud talking of people arriving, not only this the harsh lights were still on which helped me to not focus on the characters on the stage whatsoever.
The character of Doctor Faustus played by Ben Elder was introduced as a puppet, this was effective as it allowed us to realise that compared to hell he was seen as vulnerable and small. It also helped to distance the audience and showed to us that we are not watching reality; it was simply an interpretation of an urban legend. However, I also felt that it would have been much more effective if it was an actual actor performing because then perhaps we as the audience would be able to view his acting skills.

The music throughout the play was purposely sinister to reflect on the major theme of the production which was death. The music helped to build the climax, create atmosphere and to determine the audience’s emotion. The constant screaming and howling in the soundtrack helped to portray hell as a dangerous and horrific place to be. The music started to begin before the play even started this was effective as it allowed us to have an interpretation on the whole play and gave off an eerie atmosphere beforehand.
There were a few mistakes made in the whole performance which disheartened me and made it seem messy and disorganised. When organising props and having costume changes behind the actual set, it became distracting if ever a noise was made or the sheet was accidently knocked. This decreases its effectiveness as it clearly distracted me from the performance. Small incidents were made, from tripping up the stairs whilst getting on the stage, to a door not opening fully for Faustus to get through backwards. However these little mistakes were acceptable but it brought up climaxes for nothing.
They developed Doctor Faustus’s thoughts by presented them as an angel and a devil on either side trying to convince him to go onto their side. They were seen as a black card with wings on either side and hid their bodies. The persistent flapping of their wings showed their persevering and their urge to not give up. Though sometimes the angel and devils got a bit stupid
They also interacted with the audience which effectively broke the fourth wall, as it engaged the audience and it felt like we were part of the play. The use of the sign saying ‘clap’ or ‘gasp’, I thought was a quite over exaggerated as it completely distracted you from the entire play. It also brought a comical feel to the whole performance which changes the whole theme, did they intend to make you laugh or feel sympathy for Faustus? They made a member of the audience feel uncomfortable and separating the performer both physically and verbally. This makes the audience member feel apprehensive about going on stage due to the distinctive and eerie atmosphere, however this can easily be criticised as I felt that due to this I was watching more of a pantomime rather than a dramatic performance which I thought it was going to be as it struggled to create a powerful meaning, although it helped to patronise the audience which created a scary atmosphere, breaking the conventions of a normal and evil play.
The lighting throughout the play was effective as it demonstrates the major motif which is morally evil. I was constantly engaged when the arrogant protagonist who makes a pact with Lucifer to gain forbidden power and outstanding knowledge. He then finds himself getting dragged into the murky mist of hell. The low budget performance consisted of a mass of creativity, as the set didn’t change throughout the whole thing. There were small candles used to illuminate the stage and set which cleverly symbolized the heat that burns in life and death. The Candles also represented beauty which is highly ironic, as hell is an evil and sinister place, and is nowhere near beautiful.
In conclusion, I felt that the narrative was creative but the way they presented it was filled with disappointment, perhaps without the humour it would be classed as a dramatic play which is what it is originally supposed to be. I myself would not go see it again as it did not appeal to me whatsoever; it got exhibited as a pantomime and made me feel like a child. Though I would recommend this production to the older generation as it is filled with complexities and enigmas, though it would also engage children as they get attracted the humour.

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