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Brighton Festival: Faust review at Jubilee Square Brighton

This outdoor performance of the famous Marlowe/Goethe story is set in the 1920s prohibition era. It uses fire, a range of dance styles from jive to breakdancing, and a jazzy, bluesy soundtrack to tell the story of the classical scholar who sells his soul to the devil in exchange for infinite knowledge.

The physical prowess of the five male performers is central to the piece. Coinciding with twilight, the use of flaming torches with goblets and columns of fire creates an echoing, atmospheric world. As with all site-specific work, the incidental adds to the effect, as seagulls wheel around overhead in silhouette.

It’s hard to follow the story or even identify the characters at times. Faust reads books, Mephistopheles has a thurible of fire and the door frame is the entrance to Hell. The setting is a bar where people drink and gamble.

But this show is all about the visual. The music reverberates through your body and the physical theatre moves from slapstick to choreographed work with broomsticks and then to full-on breakdancing. Closer to gymnastics at times, the performers use the ground as a pommel horse doing scissor moves and flairs, then on to headspins, breakdancing and back flips.

When four chairs are linked with a flaming rope to create a boxing ring of fire, the production really takes off. Faust and Mephistopheles embark on a choreographed dance fight, the soundtrack clanks and wheezes and Faust is dragged backwards into hell. It’s a strong ending to a dynamic and energetic piece of street theatre.

Production Information

Jubilee Square, Brighton, May 18-19, then touring until August 31

Author/director/choreographer
Robby Graham
Producer
Bad Taste Company
Cast includes
Robby Graham, Paul Martin, Eroy Chan, Benjamin Taylor-Shepherd, Sam Amos, Ruckas Saltenfas
Running time
45mins

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