“Faustus shall never repent” the titular character states brazenly – almost convincing himself, but
with tears in his eyes. Christopher Marlowe’s
Their decision to opt for a promenade performance, for example, effectively thrusts the audience into the role of witnesses to Faustus’ existential agony
Noah LiebmillerembodiesFaustus’s sparkling recklessness; despite his fortune in intellect and self-made status, he yearns so desperately for a philosophical battle of wits that he invites devils to be his combatants. Liebmiller faces off most spectacularly with the devil Mephistophilis (a masked Jared Liebmiller), who is nevertheless wary of encouraging Faustus’s self damnation; the devil’s foreboding and wise reluctance in perfect symmetry with the doctor’s eager rashness.
There are dozens of smaller roles in Doctor Faustus, played here by a cast of thirteen actors, many of whom verge on stealing the show. Particular standouts are Phoebe Soulon as the Evil Angel, whose gleeful teasing urges Faustus along, and Jack Briggs as the preening and self-satisfied Lucifer. Equally impressive are the comic relief duo of Becca Schwarz and Jemima Tyssen Smith who, as the clowns Robin and Dick, toy with magic and foreshadow the undignified pranks that Faustus himself degenerates into performing.
Bonci and Gillespie should also be commended for taking advantage of one particular aspect of their casting, which adds immeasurably to a perfectly poetic conclusion: underscoring how Faustus, too late consumed with regret, should be the same as the fallen angel Mephistopheles.
While retaining Marlowe’s Elizabethan text, directors Gillespie and Bonci opt for a contemporary presentation; interwoven into the story are acapella versions of modern songs which disturbingly fit all too well. These, along with cheeky videos including pop culture references, perfectly suggest that, while from Faustus’s perspective this story is his own, for the devils it’s an eternal tale in which only the faces and names change. Anyone, any time, can damn themselves.