I don’t want to make it seem like I came all the way to London just for Kit Harington making his return to the stage for the first time in quite some time but I can’t say it wasn’t a big reason that I’m here. London has been number one on my bucket list for so many years so once this play was announced I started scheming on ways to get here to see it. I eventually worked it out and here I am!
If I’m honest I think the last time I saw a proper play was Mamma Mia! Maybe 10 or so years ago. Other than that the only plays I feel like I’ve seen were the plays put on by my high school around the same time. So Doctor Faustus was essentially my first introduction to real theater. Needless to say my being my first introduction to proper theater was an absolute banger.
The director Jamie Lloyd has put on a production of Doctor Faustus that I can only imagine the world has never even come close to seeing before. I will say that I’m really glad that I had a pretty full idea of all of the things that were in the play (Thanks interwebs!) because if you walk into this show completely in the dark you are in for a huge surprise.
It’s full of really heavy and dark stuff which is a given when it’s a play about a man selling his soul to the devil for a bit of fame. There’s every kind of bodily fluid imaginable, there’s a very intense scene with sexual violence, suicide, nudity, and language. It all fits though. It doesn’t seem gratuitous or out of place in a play about a man who is essentially losing his ever loving mind.
Kit as the lead role of Doctor Faustus absolutely and truly blew me away. I’ve been a massive fan of Kit’s for years and even with as much as I adore him I walked away from this with a complete newfound respect for him as an actor. It takes guts and a whole lot of energy to do what he is doing on stage every night yet even though he is just about at the end of his run in this production you can tell he’s still giving it his all. He’ll make you laugh, he’ll make you feel sympathy for a man who has very few redeeming qualities, and he will probably leave you a little speechless. It’s quite obvious that Kit draws a lot of his own crowd from Game of Thrones but I can’t imagine that he hasn’t made a few new fans during this run from his stage presence alone.
The play in itself is interesting because they have re-worked the entire middle section of the production. The script is re-written by Colin Teevan and you can immediately feel the shift and tone when it switches to modern day text and setting. Faustus has sold his soul to the devil in return for nothing else but fame as a magician. It’s all he wants and all he thinks he needs yet you watch as he’s destroyed from it. The price you pay is exactly what you’d think.
Jenna Russell also deserves immense praise for her role as Mephistopheles. She’s an absolute theater veteran and pro and it shows in her performance. Her little facial expressions and body movements add so much more to her character. She and Kit play so well opposite each other. There’s a scene that they are sitting on the floor in a bit of a cuddle and you can tell they just work together. Jenna also performs a killer rendition of Bat out of Hell right at the end of the intermission while wearing a shirt with Kit’s face on it and it’s quite possibly the best thing.
The play obviously isn’t for everyone. If we were going by TV ratings I would say it’s rated MA and then add an extra something on there. There was a quite a bit older lady there yesterday though sitting one seat over from me and the whole time I just kept wondering what she was thinking or if maybe she was just someone’s Nan. I would really recommend seeing this play though if you’re in the London area before the 25th of June. It’s dark, gritty, real, and pretty twisted but it’s worth it. I’m even going again for the second time tonight.
What: Doctor Faustus
Who: Kit Harington, Jenna Russell, Jade Anouka, Forbes Masson
Where: Duke of York’s Theatre – London
When: Ends June 25, 2016
Thursday & Saturday 2:30 and 7:30 shows
Tuesday Wednesday Friday 7:30 shows