The students had chosen to adapt the original play by Christopher Marlowe in the style of Kneehigh, a theatre group who re-tell traditional plots using comedy, puppetry, song and dance. Faustus sells his soul to the devil, in return for living it up while he remains on earth. In this show, ‘living it up’ involved dancing to Justin Bieber, rapping a recitation of the Seven Deadly Sins, and Anya Tonks elegantly doing the splits on the top of the library study desks.
The high-energy cast were costumed as archetypal American High School pupils, led by Freddie Lawson as a surprisingly convincing sports ‘Jock’ and Grace Anderson as a rather threatening cheerleader, with costume designer Ella Inglis-Jones appearing as a devil when they least expected to conjure one.
Book-loving Faustus, played by Mollie Matthews, had plenty of gravitas, with her earnest 16th century verse lines delivered amidst the madness of a passiagiata to ‘Bat out of Hell’, followed by a moment when everyone else in the room was wearing Giles Bell full-face masks. Her depiction of Faustus’ growing doubts was moving, and then hilarious, when faced with Emily Hartland’s cutely squeaky Angel hand puppet, and Freddie Lawson’s cheeky impersonation of M. Portier, red devil puppet held aloft.
Sound effects were crucial to the success of the show, and Archie Tulloch, in his first term, served the cast well from behind the desk.
There were so many laugh-out-loud transpositions from the original, Ford Fiesta jokes and all, and, satisfyingly, it was just as ‘bonkers’ as Director of Drama Helen Brown had promised.