21 August, 2009

Festival Blogger review - Faust

Image: Faust. Photo: Photo: Mihaela Marin.

It’s widely quoted to be the most ambitious project of the Festival this year; and as far as I’m concerned, no disappointments there. Welcome to the macabre and horrifying world of Hell. Romanian Silviu Purcarete’s epic rendition of Goethe’s Faust seems very difficult to contain in a matter of mere words, with its cast of over 100, copious use of fake blood, fire breathing, its two stages, even a fiberglass (but very realistic) rhinoceros.

This adaptation, spoken in Romanian with subtitles, relishes the dark and terrifying side to the tale of Faust (originally a German legend); a man who makes a pact with the Devil’s agent Mephistopheles.

Amidst chilling choral music, which often floats unnoticed into the atmosphere around, are the bloodcurdling visions onstage and the tremendously captivating acting style of leading lady Ofelia Popii (Mephistopheles). A notable sense of hysteria and melodrama is aided by the many bodies that spring from behind the audience, from under floorboards, from inside cupboards, in a nightmarish manner which is skin-crawlingly humorous at times.

And not forgetting a few unexpected changes in surrounding which make full use of the spacious setting of Lowland Hall, immersing the audience in the centre of the action. Creatures with heads of pigs, fires in bathtubs, bodies dangling from moving frames, sparks, torture, and lots of sexual references are to be found in Purcarete’s interpretation of the Devil's playground; a thrilling spectacle, but definitely not for the faint-hearted. It’s hard to say whether Silviu Purcarete’s Faust is enjoyable to watch, but there’s no doubt that it is a masterpiece, with its brilliant set design and clever use of lighting and effects. Expect to be overwhelmed.

Reviewer: Kyna Bower

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