Christopher Marlowe wrote Doctor Faustus in the 1590s, since then the play has had countless retellings, including a West End run in 2016 starring Kit Harrington.

Credit: Charles Flint

Lazurus Theatre Company’s production is currently residing in The Little of Southwark Playhouse. As soon as you enter the space your eyes are immediately drawn to the back wall of the stage, which is covered in pictures, drawings and papers. Sorcha Corcoran’s set is made up of 3 desks and a number of props. I cannot fault the set design and the intrigued it built upon first glance. Suddenly smoke fills the space and a shirtless male walks across the stage in slow motion.

Doctor Faustus is an Elizabethan tragedy centering around John Faustus who sells his soul to the Devil for 24 years of unlimited knowledge, power and fame. Ricky Dukes’ production retains the original middle English lines of Marlowe’s script. This production bills itself as multi-sensory; however, I didn’t feel as though it was. There was a very small amount of interaction with the audience members in the front row, and apart from this nothing about the production was immersive. I was also left confused about when this play was supposedly set. For the most part it seemed a period piece; however, there is a moment in which two characters take a selfie on a mobile phone with Faustus, which further muddled things.

This production doesn’t appear to know what it wants to be – it’s trying to fit into a range of genres and tick all the boxes. But by attempting to do everything, it subsequently falls flat in each area. There are parts incorporating horror and gore, but this is not fully realised or done enough to make this a horror production. The Hokey Cokey is slotted in the show which seems rather random. There is a dance number in which each member of the company is a different planet. And then there is a Seven Deadly Sins song, ‘She’s a sin, she’s a sin, she’s a sexy sexy sin’, which I could see they were vying for a Rocky Horror Show style number. But to be quite blunt, this song is one that should have been left on the cutting room floor.

It’s very clear this production has been crafted to have a clearly defined target audience, and the show is rigid in its flexibility to allow other audience members into this secret club. I’m sure if you are in this target market, you’ll enjoy it – however for people watching Marlowe’s work for the first time, the show will leave you behind and the plot will probably be quite difficult for you to follow.

Credit: Charles Flint

Jamie O-Neill plays John Faustus charismatically, but at times the wordiness of the script came off as slightly rambling. David Angland gave a confident performance as Mephistopheles, and Candis Butler Jones’ performance as Lucifer (Lucy) was also notable.  

Unfortunately, this production simply tries to do too much and subsequently doesn’t do enough in any one area, leaving a rather incoherent plot, which despite the hard work of the cast, simply couldn’t be saved. Some editing is very much required. I wish there was more to like here. I gain no pleasure from writing a review like this one, but the heavy eyelids of the audience members surrounding me towards the end of the performance says it all.

Rating: 2 out of 5.

{🎟 AD – PR invite – Tickets were gifted in exchange for an honest review}

2 Star Review 3 Star Review 4 Star Review 5 Star Review 2022 2023 Adaptation Almeida Cabaret Camden Fringe Cast Announcement Christmas Comedy Dance Drag Edinburgh Fringe Edinburgh Fringe Interviews Fringe Immersive Interviews Jukebox Musical LGBTQIA+ Lyric Hammersmith Manchester Musical New Musical News New Wimbledon Theatre North West Off West End Park Theatre Play Review Revival Richmond Theatre Round Up Royal Court Theatre Shakespeare Show Announcement Show Recommendations Soho Theatre Southwark Playhouse Touring Production VAULT Festival West End

    The infamous Sh!t Faced Showtime are back in London with a festive edition, they have taken Dickens’ classic and put a drunken spin on it. The formula is the same as other iterations of the Shi!t Faced shows, one member of the cast has been boozing, and this time it is John Milton who plays Scrooge. Before the show, half a bottle of Jim Beam, some wine, and beer have been consumed in the previous 4 hours. The rest of the cast, try to keep the show on track, also aided by James Murfitt as the compere, Charles Dickens. The … More A PISSEDMAS CAROL – REVIEW – LEICESTER SQUARE
    Spine-tingling yet heart-warming, Mark Gatiss’s retelling of A Christmas Carol truly encapsulates the haunting atmosphere of a Victorian ghost story, balanced out with enough humour so as to capture the festive season. Led by Keith Allen as Scrooge, with Peter Forbes as Marley, this show is perfect for Christmas viewing. The set design by Paul Wills is instantly captivating, containing stacks of metal cabinets towering over the theatre, moveable by the cast to allow space for other central props like doors, beds and tables. In addition to this, the puppetry design by Matthew Forbes is incredibly clever, adding creepy elements to the show such … More A CHRISTMAS CAROL – REVIEW – ALEXANDRA PALACE
    The title of this winner of Theatre 503’s 2023 International Playwriting Award by Roxy Cook may seem like the set-up to a joke, but the narrative that unspools is instead an affectionate, gently barbed and at base quite sobering portrait of three ordinary souls (and one restless feline) adrift in modern Moscow. There is much affable, satirical back-and-forth commentary on the accepted myths & stereotypes of the Russian spirit & soul. Beset by the indignities of age, opportunism, graft, fatigue, the characters orbit one another, doomed to play out their roles in an unjust, predatory and saturnine universe. The play opens … More A WOMAN WALKS INTO A BANK – REVIEW – THEATRE503
    Peter Pan Goes Wrong first premiered in London at the Pleasance Theatre in 2013, and earlier this year the show made its Broadway debut. Now the production is back in the West End for the Christmas season. Following on from The Play That Goes Wrong, in this production, J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan is staged by the fictitious Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society and goes awry, disastrously so. The meta-comedy is filled with slapstick comedy, sometimes the humour may be predictable and silly, but it’s universally funny throughout – there is something for everyone here, and the laughs come thick and fast … More PETER PAN GOES WRONG – REVIEW – LYRIC THEATRE
    Drawing heavily from the classic canon of the British supernatural, HighTide’s trio of contemporary Gothic narratives uses traditional storytelling formats to address contemporary themes. Directed by Elayce Ismail, reverent musical interludes accompany tales of apparitions and nighttime conjurings that speak of women from the East of England. Unfortunately, the effect is less chilling and more lightweight, with conventional structures, predictable plot twists and an over-reliance on external forces to drive narrative shoring up some of the less relatable aspects of the genre. Nicola Werenowska’s The Beach House, perhaps the cleanest of the three tales, tells of a mother and daughter’s … More GHOST STORIES BY CANDLELIGHT – REVIEW – SAM WANAMAKER PLAYHOUSE

Leave a Reply