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Doctor Faustus (Manchester)

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
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Christopher Marlowe's Doctor Faustus explores the themes of greed, desire and the ultimate bargain; a journey to hell in return for power and knowledge. This incredibly cinematic version of the classic story starts well as it dazzles the audience into submission. But, unfortunately the whole is worth less than the sum of its parts by the time this uneven play is over.

Patrick O'Kane covers every inch of the stage as the title character and is sexy, funny and incredibly charismatic. Ian Redford gives a very understated turn as Mephistopheles and shines in every scene as a result. These two actors lead a talented team of performers and none of them put a foot wrong, which considering the frenetic pace of the play is a real credit to them.

Ben Stones' epic set and Mark Jonathan's filmic lighting lend scope where required and many of the scenes resemble the likes of The Exorcist, The Evil Dead and even a Lady Gaga gig, due to these unique touches. But, after a while - these additions start to become a tad wearing. Many scenes feature too many characters all shouting at once - jostling for your attention, and even the curtain call appears muddled.

Director, Toby Frow has some great ideas and visually – his Faustus delivers at every turn. If only he knew how to rein things in a little, as at times, you really want to savour the lines, delivered by very talented actors. But, Frow is so intent in showing you the tricks that he has up his sleeves, that the play starts to become more about the smoke and mirrors than the substance within.

This 'everything but the kitchen sink' approach leaves you with a flawed, yet frightening production.



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