11:00pm, Mon 6 Mar 2000
Short Review: Powerful
Ur/Faust is an interpretation of Johann Wolfgang van Goethe’s preliminary (the “Ur” means “original”) treatment of his classic work. It is intense, abrupt, and powerful – but has a single significant shortcoming.
Director Benedict Andrews has created a harsh and grimy world where 6 figures cut their way through the Ur/Faust. The set, though relatively barren, is wonderfully lit, and the performers use all manner of acoustic (guitar, megaphone) and visual (small video cameras displaying on multiple screens) props. The impressive use of music was, not for the first time this fortnight, very reminiscent of that in a David Lynch movie – mostly moody in a smoky kind of way, but impacting when it needs to.
The performance itself was very powerful – up to a point. Nathan Page was perfect as Faust, displaying an intensity which was incredible. Likewise, Rebecca Havey’s Gretchen was wonderfully cast. Why then, in the face of these two strong performances, was the decidedly wimpy and unexpressive Jed Kurzel cast as the pivotal Mephisto? Devil or not, Page’s Faust could kick his arse any day…
This was the only failing of the production; everything else was superb. It’s just that… well, it’s the devil, innit? And he just looked like a big wuss, not someone who’d sell you a dud deal. But Ur/Faust is still well worth seeing, purely for the superlative performances of Page and Havey (and the exceptional direction).