Dr Faustus

CHRISTOPHER SMITH Maddermarket Theatre, Norwich


Maddermarket Theatre, Norwich

Christopher Marlow's name echoes through the history of literature. But his Dr Faustus poses problems for modern audiences. Half medieval morality play, half portrayal of a Renaissance character, its great monologues are framed by a plot that soon threatens to fall apart.

Starting with the idea of a man selling his soul to the devil is great, but then the dramatist runs a bit short of invention when he imagines what his hero might expect to get back from such an alarming bargain.

Director Peter Sowerbutts tackles the text robustly. With music composed by Josh Kaye to create atmosphere, he uses red and black to convey the mood. Demons dance and giggle, and spirits appear in masks, gesturing and grimacing.

It's quite a spectacle, especially when the smoke starts rising up from the underworld.

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Amid all that, stands Rob Morris as Faustus, changing mood in a trice as he tires of scholarship or realises what price he must pay for sin.

Noel Jones plays opposite him as Mephistophiles. Smooth tongued and insinuating, with a sinister smile as he agrees to every suggestion provided he can claim his due.