Above the old stage there is a marble banner that reads in gilded gold letters “To wake the soul by the tender strokes of Art“.

In the rather elegant surroundings of Richmond theatre, these words set an aptly thoughtful tone for tonight’s tale!

Faustus is a retelling of a modern companion piece to Christopher Marlowe’s Gothic play. It is staged between two settings, placing the parable in a very modern context. You are thrown between two mirror worlds, firstly Germany in 1509 where scholar Dr John Faustus vows to conjure the presence of the Devil using Black Magic. Then the contemporary plotline of Hoxton, London 2001 – here we meet Jake & Dinos Chapman, revolutionary artists who are about to break the ultimate taboo by ‘rectifying’ a priceless set of Francisco Goya’s original prints – their hero. This decision evolves the very night they happen to lose the Turner prize to winner Martin Creeds’ (his work titled “The lights going on & off”).

From the Saatchi world to the Gothic cathedrals of 16th century Europe, Faustus & the Chapmans challenge the limits of life & art – risking everything in their pursuit of immortality.

It is a very effective story which examines the irrevocable act, the deed which cannot be undone. This is the heart of the story.

The modern scenario of ’Hell’ is the soul-less vacuum of the contemporary art world where everything can be bought.

The Chapmans are inspired by actual people, but have been heightened & reinvented to suit the play’s heart. Their acid wit & media frenzied dialogue can sometimes collide with the more theatrical original text. This aside, the interplay between the two worlds is staged brilliantly & there are seamless moments of genius.

A thought provoking night out and a very intelligent introduction to a classic story.

Rupert Goold & Ben Powers new version of Faustus is on at Richmond Theatre until 3rd of November.

Also playing at:

The Gala Theatre, Durham 6th – 10th November
The Dundee Repertory Theatre, Dundee – 13th – 17th November
Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, Guildford – 20th – 24th November