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Faustus review at Hampstead Theatre

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Jake and Dinos Chapman, the Turner-nominated artists, are in Rupert Goold and Ben Power’s adaptation of Christopher Marlowe’s masterpiece, the embodiment of the ethical and moral vacuum that Western society has become.

In that sense, there are strong parallels to be drawn with the traditional representation of Faust, who craves the acquisition of power, money and the misuse of knowledge above everything, including his immortal soul.

It is, on the other hand, a little unfair to suggest that the depicition here of their defacing or ‘rectifying’ of Goya’s etchings – representing the horrors of war – typifies our Western insensibility and lack of understanding of the horrors of life endured by those less fortunate in the world. Not to mention the modern cultural disease of form over content.

But therein lies the – presumably – intentional irony of this piece. Just as the Chapman Brothers really do add cartoon images to classic pieces of art (as does fellow art ‘terrorist’ Banksy) in an attempt to subvert its perfect nature, so to have Goold and Power ripped apart one of British literature’s greatest works to present this cartoon statement on Western decadence.

All is presented within Laura Hopkins’ brilliant sets and with Goold’s deft and at times humorous direction. Jake Maskall creates one of the most memorable Mephistopheles.

Production Information

Hampstead Theatre, October 20-November 18

Author
Christopher Marlowe adapted by Rupert Goold and Ben Power
Director
Rupert Goold
Producer
Hampstead Theatre and Headlong Theatre in association with Royal and Derngate Northampton
Cast includes
Scott Handy, Sophie Hunter, Mark Lockyer, Jake Maskall, Stephan Noonan, Jonjo O’Neill
Running time
2hrs 30mins
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