As part of a wider exposure to the arts I went to see the Jamie Lloyd production of Christopher Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus a play dating back to the end of the 16th century. I originally studied the play as part of A-level English Literature in 1985 and I thought that it might be interesting to re-visit the play for a second time.
This production features Kit Harrington of Game of Thrones fame and is a modern adaptation of Christopher Marlowe’s classic and as such features lots of references to celebrity, mass media, money and riches, consumerism, societal status all of which Faustus is able to secure through his infamous pact with Lucifer in return for his soul. I felt that the play worked well and captured the essence of Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus in what was mean’t to be a 21st century setting.
This version is seen by theatre critics as a definite attempt to attract fresh faces to the West End theatre scene, “The anxiety that has surfaced in reviews – that this is more Jamie Lloyd’s Faustus than Marlowe’s – feeds into wider concerns about perceived dumbing down, how contemporary theatre can represent the classics for modern audiences…..it feeds into the feeling that theatres would like a younger and more diverse audience – but only on theatres’ own outdated terms, and only if they can continue to churn out the same old, respectful but dusty revivals of plays with classic status” (Gardner, 2016).
There were a group of four people sat in front of us on the night fitting the stereotypical night out at the theatre profile, certainly as well as anybody on the night, unfortunately none of that group of four returned after the interval. Adapted and modern yes, but it was n’t that bad!
What was also interesting was that the promoters used several Gregory Crewdson images (as seen above) to illustrate the mood of the play. I have n’t really studied this photographer previously but I certainly like his complex constructed style so will look more closely at his work going forward.
What I took most from this evening was the concept of a modern adaptation as an inspiration as I am fast learning that most if not all creative work is derived, referenced or inspired in some way by an earlier concept and this as such opens up a whole new index of potential ideas and inspirations. I have seen the works of Tom Hunter (perhaps I’ll take another look) but apart from the project of re-interpreting a poem during this part of our course I have n’t really considered such an idea for any assignment works.
Doctor Faustus by Christopher Marlowe. (2016) Directed by Lloyd, J. (Duke of York Theatre, London. 1 June)
Gardner, L. (2016) ‘Kit Harrington in Doctor Faustus: Lewd, crude and essential for the West End.’ In: The Guardian (online) At: https://www.theguardian.com/stage/theatreblog/2016/may/02/kit-harington-faustus-west-end-jamie-lloyd (accessed 06 June 2016)
Image 1. Crewdson, G. At:
(Accessed 07 June 2016)