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15 August 2012 @ 12:46 pm
Globe screenings in the fall  
All's Well, Much Ado, and Faustus:


1. YAY.
2. I am more amused than I ought to be that Entertainment Weekly is doubtless covering this because of the Arthur Darvill connection.
3. Why do I always seem to get this sort of information from various sources *before* I get it from the Globe mailing list I'm signed up for?

I never wrote about seeing this production of Doctor Faustus, during my last trip to London, largely because of The Arthur Darvill Problem - by which I mean the fact that I didn't want my whole review to be about Arthur Darvill and how good he was and how excellent he looked in his Renaissance costume. And then the problem was compounded by the fact that everything I thought about the play felt very "Faustus 101," so every time I tried to write about *more* than Arthur, afterward, I never got anywhere. But here are the Arthur-centric things I can scrounge up from my journal:

[We went to the Globe on our first day in London, to poke around in the gift shop.] I also picked up a little pamphlet on Doctor Faustus, because it has a very nice picture of Arthur Darvill on it. [See? Problem.] The other side is a picture of the actor playing Faustus [Paul Hilton], and the copy inside suggests that they plan on - er - playing the play with the relationship between Faustus and Mephistopheles at its center. Though how much of that will be reflected in the play itself, I wonder [...] The thing is, for me, I've always found Mephistopheles more interesting than Faustus - probably due to "Why, this is hell, nor am I out of it": there's a sense of...pastness there, a sense that he can look back and really register the difference between his former state and his present one, and also the fact that his past state was finite but his present one infinite and inescapable...yes, yes, "Which way I fly is Hell," but Marlowe got there first. Anyway, contrast and nostalgia (which may not be quite the right word, there) are always interesting to me: the fact that "mere" words, always being read in a present moment, can nevertheless point us in different temporal directions and construct little mental/linguistic spaces that are separate from the current space, either ours or the character's. At any rate, we may try to get on-the-day tickets, if we can make it back from Hampstead in time on Sunday.

[After the play] I thought it was very enjoyable, very solid, and as a purely kinetic, physical, bodies-in-space spectacle there were some moments that took my breath away. (And the audience's; there was a collective gasp when Faustus had his head chopped off,and it dropped to his knees under the cloak - both from surprise, and from not being able to figure out quite how he'd managed it.)

I thought Arthur did a really splendid job at being sinister and creepy (as my friend pointed out, if you didn't already know he was Rory, you never would have associated the two performances); there was a sort of slowness to his movements, a quiet, sinister watchfulness that drew the eye to him, tinged with a slight predatory possessiveness ("my Faustus"). And all of that really brought it home to me: Mephistopheles actually, literally has all the time in the world to wait for Faustus to fall. Faustus' twenty-four years - which seem to him to be an almost unimaginable span of time - are nothing to an immortal, patient devil. [...] Though there was one moment in the production where Arthur reminded me ever so slightly of Rory, after Faustus says "I think hell's a fable," because he can't believe in such a thing; it's all "trifles and mere old wives' tales." And Mephistopheles sputters, "But I am an instance to prove the contrary!" (There's something sort of...clerkly about Mephistopheles, especially in the earliest scene: a devil with a ledger and a clipboard.) And that felt a tiny bit like Rory, that frustration that comes out in double takes and short, jerky movements of disbelief. But Faustus merely laughs, because he thinks he's got logic on his side: if Mephistopheles is in hell at this very moment (as he's just said), then Faustus is getting something for nothing, because hell is nothing more threatening than the ordinary world ("Nay, an this be hell, I'll willingly be damned"). Which is Faustus' problem in a nutshell,of course: taking the literal meaning instead of the metaphorical, the letter of the law instead of the spirit...

Sigh. It worries me, the way I never have anything interesting or intelligent to say about anything other than Shakespeare and Austen (and even that is pushing it, most days).
stoplookingupstoplookingup on August 16th, 2012 01:26 pm (UTC)
For the record, I have absolutely no problem with Darvill-centricity. Thank you for this info - I will definitely seek this out at a theater near me.
tempestsarekind: amy and her boystempestsarekind on August 16th, 2012 06:25 pm (UTC)
Hee. I just felt like I was definitely not wearing my "objective early modernist" hat while watching this play!
teliesin: TCteliesin on August 17th, 2012 09:59 am (UTC)
Thank you! Thank you! Will watch for these in my local theater.