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30 September 2011 @ 02:03
Ugly hell, gape not! Come not, Lucifer! I'll burn my books!  
'Ere, 'ere, the one billionth 'yay I've seen Doctor Faustus' post on the internetz, this time squee-free. Would you like some chips with your tl;dr?

Where shall I start? Probably at the very beginning. So Doctor Faustus is one of the treasures I discovered at university (with my moronic writing style, I bet none of you would guess I've got a degree. In English. Oh dear.) It was a compulsory reading, I loved it, have read it several times by now. So when the Doctor Who fandom exploded with the news that Arthur Darvill was going to star in a Shakespeare's Globe production of Faustus, I had two thoughts: one, I wish I could go, it would be amazing. Two, I can't possibly imagine Darvill as Mephistopheles. Thus, I had some expectations when I ordered my ticket.
I bought myself a groundling ticket. I naturally googled it beforehand, and Google said groundling tickets were all kinds of awesome. I believed it because I'd never been to the Globe before and was used to theatres where I only got to stand when I was late and couldn't get to my seat. But in the end, my experiences surpassed my expectations so far, they ended up in a different universe altogether.

The performance started at half six, I was a good little groundling and got there at 6 sharp. The thing about Faustus, there are 700 groundling tickets I believe, sold at £5 each, and I've read that there's always some left. This time there weren't any, my friends who decided at the last moment that they'd love to come as well had to wait until 6.30 to get some return tickets. Despite this, there wasn't half the crowd I was expecting, even though I expected the Globe itself to be bigger. Seven hundred people wouldn't even fit in. Still, if you're a groundling, it's better to get there early. When I joined the queue, it consisted of about 30 people (fangirls were quick, I saw a girl with a Dalek bag), but by the time they opened the gates, there was a huge crowd queuing behind me. Thanks to my early arrival, I ACTUALLY MANAGED TO SECURE A PIECE OF THE STAGE. There:

To say I was surprised to get right to the stage would be a lie, because I'd intended to, but I expected the stage to be large and the actors to keep a distance from the members of audience elbowing on the edges. Instead, it was us who had to keep out of the way of the actors. It was amazing. The stage is sort of T shaped, and my position was possibly the second most amazing, because I could clearly see the entire main stage, plus I was right there at that front thing where at least half of the performance was acted out, mere inches from us (the first best place would be the other side of the front thing, because there are stairs and the actors USE THEM. Imagine Mephistopheles arriving through the audience right next to you. That sort of thing. It was unbelievable. On our side we only had a mob, and they were about 10 feet away from me.
But it was really, really engrossing. The actors were so close you had to withdraw your arm from the stage sometimes lest they'd step on it, and since they were shouting all the time (no microphones), sometimes I even got spat on. And the smells! The pope's escort had incenses about them, and Bruno's (the German-appointed pope captured and tortured by Rome) make-up blood had a very strong smell. It was all very close and very realistic. And the tricks! You know, that poster with Mephistopheles holding a flame in his hand? When I saw it, I said, 'Yeah, like you could do that on stage.' Well, they were doing fire-tricks all the time. Mephistopheles did hold fire (it was totally a candle but it looked cool nevertheless), shot sparkles from his fingers and unholy books burst into flames. And the costumes were fantastic. They were unbelievably good at keeping it real. They even kept throwing stuff at us, I had the time of my life right next to the stage. And have I mentioned just how absolutely stunningly beautiful the theatre is?
If you ever have the chance, do dare to be a groundling. It was the most wonderful theatre performance I've ever attended. It's nothing like sitting at the back, peering at the actors from a distance. All theatres should be like the Globe. Three hours of standing isn't so scary as it seems, I keep doing it all the time (mostly in queues), it's even better when you get to lean at the stage all along, and you can sit down in the breaks (right where I was standing, in my case, because I was viciously defending my piece of stage. My friends went out to the buffet or wherever, though. You can pretty much get back to your original position, unless you're right next to the stage. Nevermind, I spent the entire break twittering.)

So, onto the acting, because you'll obviously want to hear about Arthur, so I won't start with him.
The acting was superb, in general terms. The whole cast were wonderful. They've been doing it for months now, of course, and you could see they knew exactly what they were doing... apart from such spontaneous things as an aeroplane flying by EXACTLY when Faustus or Meph or whoever was talking about flying. Or Meph having to get the string of his balloon castle back from the audience.
There were way too many brilliant performances for me to talk about them one by one so I'll only talk about the most important ones.

So, first of all, Faustus. Paul Hilton was a fantastic Faustus. I loved the parts when he was trying to repent, you could see the pain in his face and he was amazingly good. A wonderful choice. And he and Arthur had really good chemistry.

About Arthur... Here. I repent. Until the very last moment, I couldn't really picture him as Mephistopheles. I knew he was a great actor, but gee, he's Rory. Rory's, like, anti-Meph.
And I was particularly concerned about Mephistopheles, he is obviously my favourite character, because he's absolutely cool and evil and beyond the best-friendly demeanour, he's a fiend who will scream and throw a tantrum when Faustus tries to save his soul. Furthermore, let's face it, he's the centre of the show.
The shocking truth is, ARTHUR WAS PERFECT. He was EXACTLY the Mephistopheles in my mind, to the very last detail, he said the lines perfectly, with perfect gestures and behaviour and all. He was so good that it was so weird when Meph was played by another actor in one of my favourite scenes (the one where they're at the Pope's feast in the semblance of two cardinals and the Pope gives Meph his crown to carry to the treasury and Meph goes, 'So, so; was never devil thus bless'd before.' Disguised Meph laughed merrily as he said it. Meph in My Head doesn't do merry laughter. He does sarcastic half-smiles and chuckles.) And as I've said, he and Hilton were really cool together.

Another actor who must be mentioned is Felix Scott, simply because I liked his Wagner. The thing is, I never really liked Wagner in the 'book'. He was boring. But Scott's Wagner was hilarious and he made me look at Wagner differently.

I also wish to say Nigel Cooke was funny. He was playing both the Pope and Lucifer (obviously), and his Pope was amazingly evil. His lines were pretty nasty to begin with and his voice was dripping evilness. He was a joy to watch. Bruno's on-stage torture with the Pope's evil speech was honestly disturbing.

Really, everybody was awesome, in all their roles. I loved the katana-wielding angels, the mob, Dick and Robin, the Seven Deadly Sins, everybody.
The whole performance was amazing. They took the play as it were, I kept recognising my favourite passages, and some interesting interpretations, some of them quite different from my own.
And the very end was hilarious, they all started dancing and Faustus and Meph were playing the lute(!) and they were totally OOC right in front of me.
In the end, they were all gone, the audience as well, and all that remained was a single shoe of Faustus':

It looked hilarious out of context. Fellow audience member started explaining to me how it's symbolic in the play. I resisted to urge to tell him, 'You're telling ME?'

p.s.: I wanted to include pictures of the actors but I couldn't find any on the Globe's site and one simply can't google 'xy faustus' and NOT get pictures of Arthur Darvill as result, so I gave up.
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