Posts Tagged ‘ Young Vic ’

A Fearsome Foursome of Fausts

London has become a city of damned souls.  And one damned soul, in particular: Dr John Faust is everywhere.Faust Young Vic by Vesturport and Reykjavík City Theater Faust’s tale is one of ambition, hell-fire and damnation: since medieval times his story has fascinated and horrified.

Goethe grappled with this anti-hero throughout his life, Marlowe made it into his most famous play and composers Berlioz and Gounod set it to music. More recently, the Fates have conspired to saturate 21st-century London with Faust’s tragedy. Why do we poor sinners keep coming back to it?

BBC Radio3 were the first to jump into the inferno with a production whose ambition was matched only by its protagonist’s. In September, Sam West starred as Goethe’s Faust opposite Toby Jones as Mephistopheles; Derek Jacobi and Anna Maxwell Martin also featured. ENO is currently staging Gounod’s five-act opera (based on Goethe’s text) and the Young Vic has an unorthodox circus production, again based loosely on Goethe.

Dr Faustus with MephistophelesThe Faust story first appeared in the Faustbuch in 1587 and was initially popular as a tale of damnation: a sixteenth-century scandal story. But if the original medieval tale was one of religious finger-wagging, Goethe had a completely different agenda. His Faust is an idealist: like Marlowe’s creation, Goethe’s hero seeks knowledge and self-realization.

Good and evil, black and white, innocence and guilt: Goethe and Marlowe blurred these previously impermeable boundaries. In doing so they created dramatic texts which are more relevant now than ever.

Marlowe, who was accused of being an atheist*(among other things), had little interest in black and white morality. Instead, his play is a tragedy: his hero is not evil, but human; the tragedy springs not from an evil soul, but Faust’s hunger for knowledge.

The relentless quest for knowledge is familiar to us. Modern microscopes and telescopes have opened new visual worlds, scientists have delved into the workings of our own bodies and developments in health care mean we are living longer than ever.

Only last month, Stephen Hawking declared that science has displaced God. Marlowe’s Renaissance man would be eminently at home in our world of scepticism, science and selfishness. Faust’s desire to be young again (in Goethe’s reading) is a pre-figuring of our own society’s desire to look youthful. Marlowe’s Faust asks to meet Helen (of the long legs) of Troy – the most beautiful woman ever to have lived: of course he didn’t have the modern men’s mag, Playboy (…on second thoughts, I won’t add a hyperlink there), to turn to.

Faust is a thoroughly modern man: disillusioned with life, nihilistic and solipsistic. His story’s current vogue is no coincidence: modern audiences identify with Faust, his temptations are our own, his desires are ones we recognize. The chilling lesson for modern audiences is that we no longer need God to damn us: we already do that ourselves.

*in the Baines note: “A note Containing the opinion of one Christopher Marly Concerning his Damnable Judgment of Religion, and scorn of gods word”

Theatrigirl’s highlights, 13-19 September

Edward Bond Season – Olly’s Prison, Cock Tavern Theatre, Kilburn

The first play in the eagerly anticipated Edward Bond season at the Cock Tavern, which will culminate with the premiere of a new play. Famed for the violent and controversial subjects of his work, Bond is one of the most important living British playwrights. Olly’s Prison examines a father-daughter relationship gone horribly wrong.

Olly’s Prison: 14 Sep-2 Oct
Edward Bond Season:14 Sep-13 Nov

The Human Comedy, The Young Vic

Set in a small town California during the second World War, The Human Comedy is a coming-of-age story complete with musical numbers. This production, directed by John Fulljames boasts a “Community Chorus” of 80 in addition to the principal roles. The stage might get a bit cosy!

13-18 Sep

Faust at ENO opens this week

Les Misérables, Barbican

To celebrate this ridiculously successful musical’s 25th anniversary, a different cast are bringing the show to the Barbican for a few nights only. A chance to see this hugely popular musical for a more reasonable price!

14 Sep-2 Oct

Krapp’s Last Tape, Duchess Theatre

Good, solid Beckettian stuff: gloom, doom and a funny bit with a banana. With Michael Gambon as the eponymous Krapp, this existential monologue should have plenty of gravitas and absurdity.

15 Sep-20 Nov

Faust, by Gounod, Barbier and Carré, after Goethe, ENO at the London Coliseum

Goethe’s tale of the man who wanted to know everything there was to know gets the operatic treatment courtesy of this new production at ENO. Edward Gardner conducts while Des McAnuff (Jersey Boys) directs a modern-dress production.

18 Sep-16 Oct

What’s On in London 19th-25th April


Little Gem, at the Bush Theatre

The debut play by Irish playwright Elaine Murphy follows the lives of three generations of Dublin women through love, joy, death and disappointment.

“Happy-go-lucky Amber is high on life until the ‘indigestion’ starts; her mother Lorraine attacks a customer at work and now she is seeing a ‘head doctor’; Nanny Kay is finding life on the wrong side of 60 frustrating. And as is all that wasn’t bad enough, Little Gem makes his presence felt and life is never the same again.”


Stepping Out, Richmond Theatre

“In a dusty church hall, ex-professional dancer Mavis Turner holds her weekly tap class. Every Thursday, in stumbles her well-intentioned but not overly talented troupe – the awkward but hugely enthusiastic Lynne, snooty Vera, streetwise Maxine and the rest of the group – all brought together to dance as if no one is watching, and hopefully no one ever will.

That is until they are invited to perform at a charity gala. As disbelief if replaced by sheer terror, can this bunch of amateurs pull together and put on the performance of a lifetime?”

The Little Hut, at Greenwich Theatre

“On a desert island, Philip, a stalwart Englishman, is shipwrecked with his elegant wife Susan and her secret lover Henry. In such close quarters, Henry persuades Susan to confess her infidelity to Philip and adopt a plan, whereby each man will dwell with her every other week while the other retires to… The Little Hut.”

Moby Dick, at the Lyric Hammersmith

Spymokey’s take on Herman Melville’s classic.

“Trapped in the belly of a literary monster, four whalers ponder the irony of their fate as they recount their own unique version of the tale of Moby Dick. Sprinkled with inaccuracies and ever-increasing fantasy, it is the greatest mistelling of this classic and much-loved story.”

Porn the Musical, Theatre 503

When young Stefan’s tranquil life on the island of Malta is shattered by his fiancee’s slutty revelation, he goes off to America in search of a new life. What he finds is an exciting group of friends in an industry that takes some getting used to.”

Apparently, “Despite the title there is no actual porn in this show.”

The Sleeping Beauty, London Coliseum

“With a classical score by Tchaikovsky and original choreography by Marius Petipa, The Sleeping Beauty is considered one of the greatest ballets from Imperial Russia.
On her christening day Princess Aurora is cursed by the wicked fairy Carabosse: one day the Princess will prick her finger on a spindle and die. But the kind Lilac Fairy tempers the curse so the Princess will instead fall asleep for 100 years.
This thrilling production is by Birmingham Royal Ballet’s former director Sir Peter Wright.”

Sweet Nothings, Rose Theatre, Kingston

“Sweet Nothings explores the power of sexual longing, the cruelty of tradition and the vulnerability of those in love.
A young man has an affair with a married woman. He is terrified her husband will challenge him to a duel and kill him. At a party, he flirts with a girl who believes she is truly loved. Life seems full of joy. The doorbell rings. The husband enters the room.”


The Real Thing, The Old Vic

A Tom Stoppard comedy examining the complex nature of love, art and reality.

“Henry is a successful and talented playwright married to Charlotte, an actress playing the lead in his current play about adultery. Her co-star and friend Max is married to Annie, also an actor. Henry and Annie have fallen in love but is it any more real than the subjects in Henry’s play? As the story unravels, Henry discovers that love – ‘the real thing’ – can be unpredictable and painful.”

This production of The Real Thing at the Old Vic stars Toby Stephens as Henry.


Ruined, Almeida Theatre

“Lynn Nottage’s play Ruined is set in a small mining town deep in the Democratic Republic of Congo. In Mama Nadi’s bar her rules apply. No arguments, no politics, no guns. When two new girls tainted with the stigma of their recent past arrive, Mama is forced to reassess her business priorities and personal loyalties. As tales of local atrocities spread and tensions between rebels and government militia rise, the realities of life in civil war provide the ultimate test of the human spirit.”

Ballet Shoes, at the Peacock Theatre

London Children’s Ballet returns to the West End with a new production of Noel Streatfield’s popular classic story Ballet Shoes.
“The cast of 55 dancers, aged nine to 16, makes this a perfect way to introduce young audiences to the joys of ballet and classical music.”


Pictures From an Exhibition, Sadler’s Wells

“Pictures From An Exhibition begins moments from Modest Mussorgsky’s death, as the composer’s life flashes before his eyes. Vivid memories of his past and his closest relationships return in powerful fragments, staged by the combination of director Daniel Kramer (Angels In America, Punch And Judy), choreographer Frauke Requardt and poet James Fenton.

Often said to be his greatest solo piano composition, Mussorgsky composed Pictures From An Exhibition in memory of his friend, the artist and architect Viktor Hartmann, in 1874.


Elegy For Young Lovers, at the Young Vic

“Fiona Shaw (yes, the Fiona Shaw) directs Hans Werner Henze’s Elegy For Young Lovers in the third season of English National Opera/Young Vic collaborations.

The libretto for Elegy For Young Lovers, by WH Auden and Chester Kallman, revolves around a poet who devours those around him in order to nourish his art and his ego. It was premiered in 1961 and revised by the composer in 1986.
Elegy For Young Lovers composer Henze was born in Germany in 1926 and his work was influenced by a wide range of eclectic styles including neo-classicism, jazz, the twelve-tone technique and some rock and popular music.

Elegy For Young Lovers marks the UK opera conducting debut of Stefan Blunier.

Serenade for a Satellite, Barbican Hall

Birmingham Contemporary Music Group presents this family concert which combines music with theatre in a journey across time and space.

Launching with Bruno Maderna’s Serenade For A Satellite, the concert then takes the audience through the musical worlds of composers Luciano Berio, Param Vir, David Lang, Peter Wiegold and Charlotte Bray.

Theatremaker and artist Graeme Miller adds his whimsical imagination to proceedings.

Events in the foyer before the concert include music, games, theatre and film, and children and their families are encouraged to take part.

Ideal for ages 7+”


No Idea, at Greenwich Theatre

“Armed with a tape recorder, Rachael and Lisa went on to the streets and asked people what they thought their show should be about.

What they heard and recorded was funny, heartfelt, sometimes staggering but always very revealing about what we can (and can’t) imagine when we look at someone.”