dr f

Realisation is slowly dawning on Harry Boaz's Dr Faustus that paying for the pleasures of the flesh is going to take a long time - an eternity in fact . . .

Dr Faustus

Malvern Theatres


Dr Faustus is a brilliant academic and polymath but a desperately dissatisfied one! The character in Marlowe’s Elizabethan drama is learned in philosophy, divinity, law, politics and so on but remains frustrated.

He is so frustrated that he desires to explore the realm of magic and its possibilities in giving him the power to indulge his whims and appetites. He decides to enter into a contract with the devil: he signs away his soul to Lucifer in exchange for 24 years in which the most powerful demon Mephistophilis will become his servant in the earth.

As those 24 years are elapsing, this learned genius moves from the greatest discontentedness to the most disappointed and frustrated individual as he regrets the deal he signed in his own blood and realises that in the face of eternity he has made a bad choice. Can he repent and rediscover grace at the hands of a merciful Creator?

Roma Farrell has done a remarkable job of transforming Christopher Marlowe’s Elizabethan drama into a production for a single performer. Mephistophilis is a voice recorded and coming from successively all corners of the auditorium, which works well. The eerie atmosphere created, especially by excellent sound effects and clever lighting design, is very effective.

In this context Harry Boaz plays the role of the doctor. He is a fine actor though his diction and enunciation could be clearer and that is important when our ears are adapting to poetry and the rich language of the Elizabethan era.

As at the beginning, there are a number of moments when he is moving speechlessly around the stage and these are compelling and engaging . He communicates powerfully the tortured and discontented soul of the academic Faustus, as well as the anguish of the rueful man who realises that the sensual pleasures of the seven deadly sins are very temporary in the context of eternity.

The experience for the audience at this production is of course a strange one. Through nobody’s fault, but as a consequence of the coronavirus and the consequent restrictions, the experience of visiting the theatre is a diminished one: no programmes, no bar and interval drinks, masked ushers, all create a somewhat ghostly experience which is sadly cold and empty. However, it is so important that we support theatre at this horrendously difficult time. The audience numbers are necessarily limited but all the tickets need to be taken. Doctor Faustus runs at Malvern till Saturday, (26-09-20).

Tim Crow



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