Rating: 1/5 stars
What a way to return to my reviews. It's been a month since my last review post! This is largely due to the fact that the beginning of every Broadway season is slow. However, this isn't a Broadway show. I got complimentary tickets through my work to this off-Broadway play this past Tuesday evening. Yes, that is Chris Noth (Mr. Big from Sex and the City), but he is not a reason to see this show and neither is the play itself. So really, I don't think anyone should see this show unless you have absolutely nothing else to do and you receive a free ticket.
What an old old OLD play. It was first published in 1604 but first performed in 1592. So this was around Shakespeare's time but was written by Christopher Marlowe (who mysteriously died at 29). Apparently it's been adapted and performed for many years, but I had never seen a production before or really heard anything about it. To summarize what I can, because believe me it was a bizarre play that felt really old, Doctor Faustus is a man interested in magic and the devil (which was a no-no at the time) and manages to summon Lucifer's messenger Mephistophilis. Mephistophilis offers a deal of becoming his personal servant and giving him all these powers for 24 years if Faustus gives his soul to Lucifer. Of course, Faustus agrees, wastes his powers and basically does nothing for 24 years. There are a few times where he feels bad and tries to repent to God, but Mephistophilis shows up and keeps him at his word. It ends with Faustus damned to Hell.
But besides that story, about half way through the first act, the show turns into a comedy. What? Yes. There are these clowns, I guess you could call them, that are servants of Faustus and have their own random story. They are apparently there to lighten the mood. What was unfortunate was that they did LOTS of audience participation and breaking of the 4th wall (acknowledging and speaking to the audience). They made some poor woman come to the stage and read a spell where the clowns started to take off their clothes. There were times where they crawled through seats and on to people. WORST of all, they brought this woman to the stage to represent the sin "lust." And they made it so awkward with her just standing on stage and nervously laughing. SURPRISE...she then starts creepily giggling and sexually dancing on the floor...turns out she was placed in the audience and is in the cast. For the amount of cringing I did and sympathy I felt for her I did not appreciate being tricked.
So on top of all of that, the acting was just not good. Especially Chris Noth. He sorta walked around in a daze like he didn't know he was supposed to be acting. The entire show felt like I was at summer camp and all the counselors got together and created some weird clown show. At one point they literally had two dolls on strings flying over the stage to represent Faustus and Mephistophilis flying around. Oh, and how can I forget. Faustus summons Helen of Troy at one point and she just happens to be completely naked. Boobs out with a sparkly star covering her pubic area. Faustus then makes out with her and drags his hand down her body. What did that have to do with the plot? Oh nothing.
Maybe this play worked in the 1600s and was a miracle of theatre, but without some serious changes or a new vision it just does not work in 2015. I have no idea why Classic Stage Company (CSC) added this play to their season, but I hope they learn from this and pick something from the last century or two next time.
Who should see this show:
- If you like really really old plays
- If you're big into audience participation (who are you and why?)
How to get tickets:
- $71 at CSC: https://web.ovationtix.com/trs/pr/945280?_ga=1.45060582.37167067.1435262428
- $29.50 on tdf.org
- $55 on Broadway Box: http://www.broadwaybox.com/shows/doctor-faustus/