REVIEW: Doctor Faustus by Christopher Marlowe starring Paul Hilton and Arthur Darvill, Shakespeare’s Globe 12th July 2011

“Doctor Faustus, restless for knowledge, forsakes scholarship for magic and makes a pact with the Devil: if the evil spirit Mephistopheles will serve him for 24 years, Faustus will yield his soul to the Devil after death. It isn’t long before Faustus has doubts about the bargain, but Mephistopheles has plenty of entertainment at hand to distract Faustus from the terrifying reality of his position and the prospect of its agonising conclusion.”

Doctor Faustus is considered to be the greatest tragedy in English before Shakespeare. Marlowe puts some of the greatest poetry ever written for the stage and a good deal of anarchic comedy at the service of a mythic tale illustrating mankind’s insatiable desire for knowledge and power.

Mephistopheles is played by Arthur Darvill, best known as Rory in Doctor Who.  Doctor Faustus by Paul Hilton, who was last seen at the Globe in 1998 as Orlando in As You Like It and whose other credits include: Rosmersholm (Almeida Theatre), The Daughter-in-Law (Young Vic) and Silk (BBC).

Paul Hilton is charismatic and suitably intense as the lonely, restless scholar who trades 24 years of earthly glory for an eternity of damnation.

This is a clear telling of the story and it’s a visually satisfying production with plenty of gore, pageantry and puppetry.

Arthur Darvill, however, is less convincing as the devil’s right hand man; although competent he lacks any real presence.

 On a lighter note this play for all its a telling of a literally diabolical tale has many comic notes most of them excellently supplied by Pearce Quigley as Robin. This is an excellent production and I would recommend it whole-heartedly.

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