Review: Doctor Faustus at Arcola Theatre

“He that loves pleasure must for pleasure fall”

The Arcola Theatre in Dalston opened  its doors to a magnetic and thrilling journey into human desires and passions: Tangle, South West England’s African Caribbean Theatre Company, turned on the light to a compelling and engrossing unique version of Christopher Marlowe’s infamous Doctor Faustus.

With a year-round programme of touring productions, discovery projects and strategic research Tangle’s aims is to encourage and celebrate the work of artists of African, Caribbean and more than 50 other heritages, and their brilliant contribution to UK theatre, particularly in rural areas where there is little inter-cultural interface, by creating a space where many world views, languages and outlooks are positively championed in the UK’s fast changing social context.

Set in a dark, cold and bare room, stricken by sudden blades of light and voices, this contemporary version of Doctor Faustus tells the story of Faustus himself, a respected but frustrated scholar, who dreams of knowledge beyond the realm of men, a knowledge that will lead to great power and secure his legacy to eternity.

He summons the demon Mephistopheles using him to strike a deal with Lucifer – his soul for twenty-four years of infinite power, but the cost of his worldwide notoriety is infinitely high as the damned hour approaches and Faustus realises he’s lost is soul to eternal damnation.

Through a soul-stirring ensemble of music, songs, lights and infernal atmospheres, Tangle brings back to life one of Marlowe’s most renowned and beloved tales. Joshua Liburd’s Faustus is mesmerising, dramatically relatable and damned in his human desires and inhuman aspirations, Mogali Masuku and Munashe Chirisa are eclectic and chameleon, often petrifying, sometimes tender and funny, sometimes tragic and always soulful.

Delving into humanity’s scariest demons and ghosts, tackling pressing issues such as the volatility and ephemeral spirit of fame and success and the fear of mortality and oblivion, Tangle’s Doctor Faustus masterfully combine Marlowe’s legendary words and the explosive performances of its talented and versatile actors to tell the story of a man whose desire speaks to all of us lost in our hunger for love, fame and eternity. The play was on from the 13th– 17th March 2018.

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