At the Small World Centre in the Queen W Artscape Youngplace building, Apothecary Theatre & Dandelion Theatre have teamed up to create a new adaptation of Christopher Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus, onstage now through Halloween.
Slimming the epic down to two performers and a single hour, adapter/stars James Llewellyn Evans and Augusta “Gus” Monet aka Coyote Ugly have created a new piece of semi-immersive classical theatre that retains Marlowe’s extravagance but reclaims the intimacy at the heart of the story: one soul, one devil. The plot points become a little muddled but the simplicity of the play’s premise allows for the details of life to take a backseat to moral concepts and big feelings.
Director Max Ackerman’s production is moody and intense with dramatic lighting (Za Hughes, Max Ackerman, Beth Airton) and the hardest working fog machine in town. A silent pre-show and three-sided seating map add to the immersive feel while audience members are incorporated into the production with creative flair and thoughtful restraint. The act of choosing participants reinforces Mephistophilis’ god-like power within Faustus’ narrative but those who choose to remain observers are protected by masks distributed at the door (willing audience participators wear devil horns). This seemingly small innovation is a game-changing accommodation for an aspect of accessibility commonly overlooked by even the most well-intentioned theatre makers.
Ben Airton’s cheeky sound design and bold music choices add a fresh edge to the drawing room drama and a wireless microphone is used to great effect allowing Monet to showcase remarkable vocal agility as Mephistophilis. While Evans leans on strong classical performance as the earthly Doctor Faustus, Monet swallows up the stage in a star turn full of winks and menace. Their stylistic contrast is one of the production’s greatest strengths, as is the swiftness with which Faustus is hurled towards his fate in the smartly short runtime.
With a ticket price of only $20, Doctor Faustus is exactly the sort of vibrant, accessible art this city needs to revitalize its independent theatrical landscape. Get your tickets HERE.