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Doctor Faustus - Stage History

Doctor Faustus featured in the repertoire of Lord Admiral's Men (at the Rose) between 1594 and 1597. A 1602 revival kept it on the English stage until the official closure of the theatres in 1642. Its post-Restoration life was short, then its stage fate took a turn: the play was hijacked by an increasingly popular genre - early English pantomime.

During the nineteenth century, the Faustus who featured in many burlesques was derived from Goethe's text; 'it was not until the 1896 that William Poel gave Marlowe's original the hopefully "authentic" staging to which his Elizabethan Stage Society was dedicated.' (Simon Trussler, Dr Faustus - RSC Programme, 1989)

The first twentieth-century stage appearance of Doctor Faustus was an amateur production in 1907, with J. Brooke as Faustus and R. Brooke as Mephistopheles: it 'opened on 11 November at ADC for two performances; made handsome £20 profit; bare scenery but suffused with the spirit of poetry'. (The Marlowe Society). The first twentieth-century professional production was the Birmingham Rep's: directed by H. M. Prentice at the Malvern, the production run 24 March - 13 August 1934. There's been a wealth of radio productions of the play, the first going back to 1923; Dr Faustus's big-screen career started in 1947 - with a BBC production directed by Stephen Harrison; several BBC productions followed. The most famous Dr Faustus film remains the 1967 Columbia Picture's, directed and adapted by Richard Burton and Nevill Coghill, featuring Burton and ELizabeth Taylor.

This website's up-to-date survey of the play's performance life - complete with reviews, casts, picture galleries, reception and revivals - records:

  • 49 amateur productions,  all over the country, including the play's popularity at the Edinburgh  Festival
  • 54 professional productions - from the RSC and the London National to production from Brute Farce NT, Natural Nylon, Third Party, Flipside, Etcetera and Headlong Theatre
  • 4 film productions
  • 14 radio productions.
If you have staged or know of other productions of Dr Faustus in the UK which are not on our database, please get in touch.