I shared some of my own thoughts about Jamie Lloyd‘s new production of Doctor Faustus – along with choice quotes (be they care of Christopher Marlowe or Colin Teevan) – last night. This morning’s other coverage following the star-studded opening night is, like the story itself, a mixture of heaven and hell.
Game of Thrones celebrity casting can’t save a misconceived, vulgarly populist updating of this Renaissance classic.
The first thing you need to know about Jamie Lloyd’s new production of Doctor Faustus – apart from the fact that it stars Kit Harington (a.k.a. Jon Snow from TV’s Game of Thrones), which every Throner undoubtedly already knows – is that it is not for the squeamish. There is A LOT of blood – […]
Jamie Lloyd’s latest production reinvents Christopher Marlowe’s classic play for a more modern audience in a typically sinister, bold and inventive way.
Much of what makes The RSC great is embodied in Maria Aberg’s Doctor Faustus, now playing in Stratford’s Swan Theatre. A classic Elizabethan text that is given an invigorating and challenging interpretation and presented in a display of top-notch stagecraft. For students of modern theatre, Aberg’s show should be compulsory viewing.
Kit Harington will return to the London stage to play the title role in an anarchic production of Doctor Faustus at the West End’s Duke of York’s Theatre, London, from 9th April 2016. Directed by Jamie Lloyd, Christopher Marlowe’s masterwork, with two acts by Colin Teevan, will preview from Monday 9th April 2016, booking until Saturday 4th June. Further casting to be announced.
When Lazarus Theatre artistic director Ricky Dukes invited me to host a post-show discussion at Tamburlaine, the uproar around the Barbican Hamlet’s “To be or not to be” seemed like the perfect, topical jumping-off point: Should we or shouldn’t we ‘tamper with’ the classics? Or, given the scarcity of actual practitioners (as opposed to newshounds) prepared to argue that we shouldn’t, put another way: what do we gain by tampering with the classics?
Now I’m no republican, but the problem with a hereditary monarchy is that you never really know who you will get ruling you. They could be good or evil, sensible or mad, a statesman/woman or just a state, it’s all a bit of a lottery. This then is the central theme to Christopher Marlowe’s play “Edward II” or to give it its full title “The Troublesome Reign and Lamentable Death of Edward the Second, King of England, with the Tragical Fall of Proud Mortimer.”
Swan Theatre, Stratford upon Avon
Written by Christopher Marlowe
Directed by Justin Audibert
Christopher Marlowe’s The Jew of Malta play takes a tale of cunning and avarice, love and hypocrisy and strips it down to the basest of humanities at its core. Barabas the Jew is a man for whom it is possible to feel both compassion and disgust. He hadn’t chosen his calling, having first been a physician, then an engineer and finally a usurer. Yet it is in that money-lending role that he is singled out by Ferneze, Malta’s Christian governor, to fill the island’s war chest or face conversion to Christianity. And as the Muslim Turks threaten Malta, so do we find Marlowe sketching out a contemporary, if troubling resonance, as the three Abrahamic faiths challenge each other
Justin Audibert’s intelligent production sees Jasper Britton give a warmth and joie de vivre to Barabas that one might not have expected from a man destined to ultimately wreak hideous revenge. Britton’s wiles and connivances serve only to endear him to the audience, whom he plays beautifully, with a string of raised eyebrows and intimately glanced asides. An unexpected counterpoint to the Jew is Ithamore, his Moorish slave. Lanre Malaolu bounces and clowns across the stage as we witness the slave perversely worming his way deeper into the affections of his master.
The threatening Turkish armada is led by Calymath, ably played by Marcus Griffith in true swashbuckling form. As the intrigues of the plot, riddled with treachery and deceit lead to an inevitably tragic conclusion, we witness the duplicity of inter-faith conflict alongside an even more painful intra-familial despair as Barabas and daughter Abigail, (sensitively and spiritedly played by Catrin Stewart) both come to despise the other, with fatal consequences.
Steven Pacey’s Ferneze displays a recognisable statesman-like duplicity, as he schemes both with and against Barabas to defend his nation, whilst we catch but a glimpse of Marlowe endorsing his own personal inclinations when Simon Hedger’s Merchant says ‘I count religion but a childish toy’.
In a production that thrills, Jonathan Girling’s music enhances proceedings. His introduction however of a 19th century klezmer sound, whose history derives from the European Ashkenazi Jewish community whereas Malta’s Jews hailed from a distinctly Mediterranean Sephardi heritage, does seem a little incongruous.
But elsewhere the detail invested in The Jew Of Malta is meticulous, manifest in the clarity, diction and playing of the company for whom neither a syllable nor glance is wasted. Bringing their world class style to this Elizabethan classic, with Lily Arnold’s plainest of sets proving a foil to magnificent costumes, The RSC again deliver magnificent theatre.
In repertory until 29th August 2015
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