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Doctor Faustus performed at the Duke of York Theatre in London.

The Jamie Lloyd Company has revived a traditional Christopher Marlowe story, thrown some new writing (by Colin Teevan) at it and staged it in a contemporary fashion. But, do not shy away from it as some real delights can be found entwined in the madness that ensues on stage.

The director's vision is clearly a manic one relating to current politics, fashion and time; mish­mashed with traditional theatre techniques and styles. As was the case in theatre during Marlowe’s time, the production doesn’t shy away from being a piece of theatre both in acting and production style. The play is messy with bodily fluids exploding left, right and centre in the first half, and it doesn’t get much cleaner during the second. Nudity, bodily fluids, fear, anger, violence and desperation is thrust into your face throughout the show, with very little let up. Having read early reviews of the show, it is very clear that they have scaled all this back since the previews, and this really adds to the show; that old­age saying of less is more fits perfectly. The reduction of the fluids made it all the more powerful.

Using one of the most popular current faces from our screens, Kit Harington, to play Faustus, is bound to take away one’s attention from other elements. Yet, it is Jenna Russell who would have stolen the show if it wasn’t for the copious rows of fan girls, whispering, gasping and sniggering at Harington’s naked torso, butt or just his presence. And you can not shy away from the audience’s comments about Game of Thrones at the beginning, interval, end and during the show; which as a regular theatre go­er really frustrated me. The majority of the audience lost many crucial moments due to their ‘fan­girling,’ and while I accept that this is an expected element of having someone like Kit take centre­stage, it still ruined element’s of the show for me.

Having said that, the quality of the acting within the show was just phenomenal, and it is worth going to see just for this. Jenna Russell was an absolute star in all areas of her portrayal of Mephistopheles, and was coupled with the brilliant Forbes Masson and his genius interpretation as Lucifer. The pair utterly disgusted me in a brilliant way, and I couldn’t take my eyes off them! Kit Harington excels as Faustus, and surprised me with his complete physical, vocal and mental commitment to such a demanding role. I had doubts that Jon Snow would be able to transform into Doctor Faustus, yet within milliseconds of him exploding onto stage in character I completely believed every word he uttered.

I really admired the directors, designers and actors decision not to hide that this is theatre. Sometimes shows focus too much on trying to be real, especially when they modernise traditional scripts like Marlowe or Shakespeare, and often it just doesn’t work. And while, I am still unsure about how I feel of the modernisation of such a classic, I still believe that this was a triumphant production because the backstage and heart of the theatre wasn’t hidden, and the acting was raw and energetic.

This production is a must see for anyone interested in or studying theatre, and while elements of it might put you off, take the risk ­ life's too short. And I can almost guarantee that even if those elements putting you off disgust you, you will highly appreciate other elements and come out declaring it to be a great production! So, catch it now at the Duke of York’s Theatre, London. Tickets are selling well, so be sure to get yours quickly!

Written by Nikica Marcot

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