One of the great London discoveries for myself pre-pandemic was the work of Lazarus Theatre Company. With a sensational take on Oscar Wilde’s Salome and later Macbeth, one ponders what might be next…
Doctor Faustus by Christopher Marlowe made for great theatrical flair from this company. I expected a lot of wackiness and panache was delivered it in bucket loads. Impassioned lead actor Jamie O’Neil, works very well as the titular anti-hero, easily wooed by the devil’s messenger Mephistopheles. In a series of ever increasing mania, Faust abuses his newly acquired powers, a strange array of Pope visitations, globe trotting and an outrageous number featuring the seven deadly sins. The colourful, whiplash speed is alive throughout and the curtains used get a keen workout.
As Mephistopheles, David Angland is wickedly good, his evil glares really selling it, along with other funny moments. An amazing troupe of supporting talent have the reigns in a conveyor belt of locations and situations. A dance number after Faustus signs the deal features tight movement and the all round glowing energy that they bring throughout are more highlight. Director and adapter Ricky Dukes must be praised for this fine thing. The exceptional use of such a small space enhanced the experience making for an intimate endeavour.
Some beautiful moments saw a hark back to their Salome, figures slowly traversing through a smokey tableaux. There is a lot of this here, though it remains a pretty sight, none more so when the apparent Helen of Troy joins Faustus in relations. Money, blood and ectoplasm stain the stage and the famous plastic sheeting another nod to previous work. Sell your soul to book this.
Doctor Faustus runs at the Southwark Playhouse till 1 October 2022.
Lazarus Theatre next production at the Southwark Playhouse will be Hamlet.