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Doctor Faustus at the Duke of York’s theatre

First Published 26 April 2016, Last Updated 6 June 2018

What’s it all about?

The latest offering from rock star director Jamie Lloyd takes Christopher Marlowe’s tale of an academic who sells his soul for a taste of the high life and, with Colin Teevan’s help, turns its glare on the cult of celebrity. So the learned scholar becomes a superstar magician. Wizbit, he ain’t.

Who’s in it?

Who better to lead a play about celebrity then the star of TV’s biggest show, Game Of Thrones’ Kit Harington, who rocks out on his air guitar while believing the hype before desperately yearning for truth and a way out.

But you know what they say about the devil having all the best lines? That’s very much the case here. Jamie Lloyd Company regular Forbes Masson is a crazed Lucifer, Jokerish in his psychosis; a lurking, string-pulling presence teetering on the edge of Armageddon.

Jenna Russell, also reunited with her Urinetown director, is a brilliantly beguiling Mephistopheles. The demon who brings about Faustus’ downfall is, in her hands, surprisingly full of humanity and almost reluctant to take the ambitious illusionist’s soul. She can also knock out an impressive version of Bat Out Of Hell.

What should I look out for?

Soutra Gilmour’s dingy bedsit set that’s separated and rearranged leaving holes and gaps underlining the artifice and façade of Faustus’ fame…

… similarly Ben and Max Ringham’s near constant score, which boasts, among its box of tricks, canned laughter – it’s not real, you see.

And Tom Edden stealing the show with two set piece scenes; his embodiment of the seven deadly sins – Sloth is a predictable… … … treat – and his speech as a fan/demon desperately in need of a very specific snack… you don’t want to know what he actually gets served.

Who was in the press night crowd?

The Game Of Thrones gang were out to support Harington instead of watching episode one of season six on Sky Atlantic. We spotted Alfie Allen, Rose Leslie, Gemma Whelan, Natalie Dormer and Richard Madden, fresh from his Romeo And Juliet rehearsals.

In a nutshell?

Siegfried and Roy meets Game Of Thrones via The League Of Gentlemen and Bottom; Doctor Faustus is a bloody, bonkers devil of a show.

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Will I like it?

Game Of Thrones fans – it has blood, nudity and Harington. It’s what we know and expect.

Lloyd has let himself off the leash with this production. From the West End’s least glamorous costumes to gimp masks, crazed dancing demons to acts you would not discuss with Granny, there’s a lot going on as the meddling magician discovers the realities – or rather the unreality – of fame and longs for something more substantial.

For some the tombola of directorial ideas may be a distraction from the wrestling for one’s own humanity, for others the on stage madness will serve as a bonkers reflection of Faustus’ tormented state of being. I can’t tell you which camp you’re in; I’m not a magician.

Doctor Faustus plays at the Duke of York’s Theatre until 25 June. You can book tickets through us here.


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