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1998galleon

'This production sat well alongside recent releases Boogie Nights and The Ice Storm, combining flash-trash with human tragedy. The tragedy is that this Faustus was merely an ambitious academic with a lack of dress sense and social skills. His downfall was caused by an over-active libido rather than occult dabblings. Faustus wanted a woman; and, when wife-swapping wasn't an option, conjuring had to do.

Galleon Theatre Company described this piece as an art house production that creates an arcade of gaudy paper desires - a world of illusion, tinsel dreams, broken images. Tacky it certainly was, in a most ironically post-modern sense of the word. The audience were treated to gold lamé gloves, hippie-chick dancing and a wealth of black velvet - and that was just Mephistopheles! The key concept appeared to be a repressed Faustus taps into a world of psychedelic excess, embodied in a female demon.

The interplay between Martin Carroll as Faustus and Imogen Slaughter as Mephistopheles was playful on the surface but hinted at more sinister undercurrents. Faustus' kitsch, suburban lodgings were papered with pornographic pictures. [...] Mephistopheles' refusal to grant his wish for a wife appeared to be motivated by her own attraction to Faustus. [...]

The production was rich in twentieth-century references from fantastical Disney films screened to display the power of Lucifer, to spellbinding perfume ads. [...] Comedy was an important tool in [Simon Bell's] armoury of effects, fitting the off-the-wall tone of the production and encouraging engagement. [...] Faustus' scholarly friends were comedy cut-outs, with mock Germanic accents, bottle top glasses and extremely long arms with rubber-glove hands that flailed and pointed in a comedic ballet. These characters combined well with the penny-arcade pope (operated by a slot machine), an emperor with an army of toy soldiers, and a transvestite Duchess; but they undermined the character of Faustus who had to work very hard to maintain any integrity in the midst of such a wild cast of characters. [...]

For all the theatrical "magic" of the piece - nick-nacks that turned into gold, and flickering t.v. screens that could transport the audience to another world - the occult material was not dealt with in any depth. Faustus' book of necromancy was represented by a catalogue and his conscience an unanswered telephone. This was a world of inter-textual reference rather than of supernatural mystery - with a video camera to mediate Faustus' possession by the deadly sins and the Omensoundtrack used to create atmosphere through association. The metaphysical element was left unresolved [...]: Faustus cried out for Mephistopheles before falling into a pile of his, ever-present, learned tomes. Yet, without the Chorus speech, the audience appeared a little unsure of whether the action had finished or not.

The cast of three men and two women worked very well as an ensemble, creating the myriad of cameo parts and making good use of the pub-theatre setting and the intimacy they enjoyed with the audience. They used the spatial limitations to their advantage and created a real sense of a man having outgrown his surroundings. Faustus literally bounced off the walls of the compact set.

[A] high-energy production with choreographed movement and community singing [...] displayed an intelligent and playful approach to the iconography; but, by avoiding engagement with the central issues of the piece, it remained an insubstantial collage.'

Emma Govan, RORD 38 (1999), 95-7