Sunday, 8 May 2016

THEATRE | DOCTOR FAUSTUS STARRING KIT HARINGTON

Well, I totally wasn't expecting this. I admit I went in to see Doctor Faustus completely 'blind' without any prior research so I truly didn't know what to expect but if I were to make any speculations on a story about a doctor called Faustus it would be the furthest thing to what this play actually was. Let's rewind to the first moment I heard Kit Harington would make his long-awaited return to the West End. The first thought I had was that it certainly was a great way to further push the whole 'Jon Snow is truly dead' angle that Game of Thrones had been trying (key word: trying) to sell, give Kit a fresh new stint in a play to make it seem that he's done with the show. Could've fooled me but would like to point out that Faustus finishes it's run in June whilst GoT starts filming around the June/July mark each year. It's just too convenient of a coincidence no? The other thing I'd like to first address is that I'm (shock horror) not really keen on Jon Snow or Kit's acting on the show to be honest. I know it's a rather unpopular opinion and people always ask me how I can be such a big GoT fan whilst disliking Kit? Let's make it perfectly clear, I don't dislike him at all, Jon Snow just isn't one of my favourite characters and I find Kit rather close to rivalling Kristen Stewart in the lack of facial expression department on the show. Condemn me if you will but at least now you have a bit of an idea of what I was feeling going in to the show. Regardless I was super curious to experience Kit acting live in a play and for him to perhaps prove me wrong with a gazillion new facial expressions.

I knew a lot of people had been worried about the insinuation of blood and gory themes from the promotional photos and the warnings already attached to the play about it containing adult themes and scenes of sexual violence. My friend who I went to see it with, doesn't do horror at all and was quite nervous going into it but I think her love for Kit overpowered any doubts in the end. It's definitely not a play for the faint-hearted and squeamish. Doctor Faustus tells the tale of the titular character who, when introduced to the audience, is a doctor bored of his studies and seeking something more. He calls two famous magicians to summon the devil and makes a deal with him: to be able to perform unlimited, powerful magic through the help of the devil's servant in exchamge for only 24 years of life before he will be taken down to hell. As can be predicted, no good outcome could possibly stem from such a pact and unfortunately having so much power blinds Faustus from many human aspects such as love.

Despite it being more commonly known as Doctor Faustus, the original name of the play by Christopher Marlowe is The Tragical History of the Life and Death of Doctor Faustus, which asides from being quite a mouthful, pretty much sets the tone of the entire story. I had no idea that it was an Elizabethan play and honestly got a little confused at the beginning, as this particular production employed a contemporary setting and costumes. Luckily the Shakespearean dialogue only lasted for one scene and I was quickly able to catch on. The way they executed the story was quite rock and roll: funky bursts of music, synchronised choreography and plenty of tongue wagging. Kit fits into this aesthetic perfectly with his wild mop of curls, smudged guyliner and tight trousers, the latter of which he doesn't wear for that long anyway. On the subject of lack of pants, the excess of nudity in the play seems to be quite the hot topic. A lot of reviewers have voiced that they're only flaunting Kit's abs and backside for ticket sales and though I agree it's all rather unnecessary, you can't deny that it's a tactic that works. That said, I do not think this production relies entirely on Kit Harington's physical appearance. Even though thus far the critics have been harsh, there's substance in his performance and he is quite able to carry this lead role. Perhaps the play is lacking in emotional depth but it's quite entertaining nonetheless, there were many extremely witty and shocking moments that kept me on the edge of my seat and the props, lighting, visual and sound effects were pretty darn spectacular. The ensemble cast were also impressive and a highlight of the play for me was Tom Edden's performance, he played quite a few characters but gave each such flare. Overall, I really enjoyed this play and was pleasantly surprised. It's quite funny and stimulating for those of you who like their entertainment, but definitely not for those who are easily queasy. 

Doctor Faustus is at the Duke of York Theatre until the 25th of June 2016. More info and tickets can be found here.

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