Shifting Sands, Faustus

Review in Issue 14-2 | Summer 2002

Productions of Dr Faustus seem to have been very much in vogue recently, each with their own slant on this classic tale of selling yourself to the devil for ultimate, although short-lived, power. Shifting Sands opted for a clowning approach. Gerry Flanagan, who also directed the show, plays Faustus as a bookish yet ineffectual academic in his twilight years, who cannot bear to leave his books behind.

Forsaking the love of a woman in his youth, and now knowing only a love for the written word, Faustus’ life seems to have amounted to nothing but a house piled high with books on every subject the world has ever known; his is a soul ripe for the plucking. So the wily, yet fumbling, Mephistopheles, played with serpentine gusto by Brazilian Eduardo Coelho, and his assistant, played by Paschale Straiton who excels as the put-upon sidekick, must uncover the secret of Faustus’ past in order to manipulate him into relinquishing his soul.

Adopting a direct and conversational tone with the audience, Faustus engenders a certain pity as a misguided thinker whose folly is his downfall. Clambering amongst the books the performers weave an uncertain magic with the dense verse, deflecting and interpreting the meaning with half-hearted slapstick. Whilst long drapes of red cloth provide an inventive means to pull the actors across the space or transform Faustus’s study into the turmoil of Troy, there is a sense that this production can’t actually find anything funny in Marlowe’s Dr Faustus.

Presenting Artists
Presenting Venue
Date Seen
  1. Feb 2002

This article in the magazine

Issue 14-2
p. 27