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Faustus - That Damned Woman

Chris Bush, based on Doctor Faustus by Christopher Marlowe

A Storyhouse Originals production

Storyhouse, Chester

February 3-18, 2023. 2 hrs





What does it profit someone to gain the whole world and yet lose their soul?

Chris Bush’s modern take on Marlowe’s classic adds a provocative twist by making a woman the lead character.

The play remains faithful to the original storyline, exploring all that the world has to offer - money, power, longevity, supreme knowledge - only to find them ultimately illusory. But the motivation to grasp these idols is profoundly different and contemporises this story.

Olivia Sweeney as Johanna Faustus draws out raw emotion really well as she sells her soul to the devil to find the ultimate destination of her mother, who was executed as a witch in 17th Century.

She rails against the injustice, the misogyny and patriarchy in society that sees her mother killed, and countless women contained and controlled. In thinking this world can not be any more hellish for women, she commits to eternal damnation in return for 144 years of ultimate power.

Faustus then attempts to use this devilish power to make things better and to improve the lot of women. She confronts the demon, Mephistopheles, to promote her cause, only to find that no matter how she attempts to help, she ends up seeing little change, or makes things worse.

Faustus meets several iconic women as she travels in time, who provide timely reminders that women should have the same opportunities to exploit their talents as men.

The cast does an excellent job in supporting Sweeney, taking on several roles comprising of different appearances of Mephistopheles and other characters. There are some comic moments and a whimsical sense of humour, most notably in the dialogue between Pierre (Miriam O’Brien and Dzey Z Smith) and Marie Curie (Yale Tool Margalith) which makes him seem like a ventriloquists dummy compared to the genius of Marie.

Of course, Marlowe's original is a morality play, warning all that temporal things do not last. This version keeps that idea, and adds the importance of women’s rights. While this is a welcome addition, the new theme helps the ending to lose its clarity and it is difficult to see the direction the play is going - I'd recommend perhaps reading a synopsis of the original before going if you unfamiliar with the story. But of itself, this is a dramatic, well acted and forceful piece of theatre in its own right; one that will make you think.


Tickets and information here



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