Quite a varied trip to the theatre this week with a new interpretation of a classic, a charming new musical and a sell out production straight from the Edinburgh Fringe.
Doctor Faustus @ Southwark Playhouse*
Running until: 1st October
Ticket link: https://www.southwarkplayhouse.co.uk/the-little/doctor-faustus/
A new interpretation of Christopher Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus has arrived at the Southwark Playhouse ahead of the spooky season. The play follows a man who makes a deal with the devil and asks what could possibly go wrong? Turns out quite a bit. And, in the case of this production, that’s not just within the script.
What this production does capture well is the creepy atmosphere. Strong lighting design from Stuart Glover and sound design from Sam Glossop, really help create a tense atmosphere and this really comes into play during the hell scenes. I also generally liked the overall design by Sorcha Corcoran, particularly during the last 15 minutes worked really well. Some of it was a bit too gore-y for me at times, but it’s not to the point of traumatisation. The acting was strong throughout the company, particularly from Jamie O’Neill as Faustus, who really gave a fantastic performance.
However, I did find that perhaps 90 minutes was a bit too long for this production as quite a lot of it felt like filler. The beginning of the play took absolutely ages to set up and it didn’t feel like there was no real point to it. There’s a whole section about the planets of the universe, that I didn’t really see the point of. There was a whole song dedicated to the 7 deadly sins, which again had no real point to it. Some of them I couldn’t even make out what they were because the sound wasn’t so great. Which isn’t really a design problem, it’s more of a space problem (not the first time I’ve had this in the Little space at the Southwark Playhouse).
Overall, for me it was fine. Could’ve been cut down to 60 minutes, but worth checking out if you’re in the mood for something creepy ahead of spooky season.
Help! We Are Still Alive @ Seven Dials Playhouse*
Running until: 15th October
Ticket link: https://www.sevendialsplayhouse.co.uk/shows/help-we-are-still-alive
What would you do if you planned to break up with your significant other… and then the apocalypse happens? Help We Are Still Alive is a charming new musical that follows Jas and Finn as they become the only two people left in the world. While they navigate survival, they also navigate the state of their relationship.
I absolutely loved this wonderful new musical. This two hander is performed by Jade Johnson and Elijah Ferreira as the central couple, who are just marvellous. Both of them are delightfully charming, have great comedic timing and have wonderful chemistry together. Both have superb voices too and it was a real treat to have a few of the musical numbers played on guitar by Elijah, which further enhanced how alone the two of them were. They had to drive their own story. The show takes place in 2023, where the world has gone to pot as a result of climate change and there’s a really interesting discussion about this throughout the show, which felt timely. It’s not all doom and gloom as there are some genuinely funny moments within this, a testament to Imogen Palmer’s excellent script.
The music is by Tim Gilvin, who also wrote the score for Unfortunate which I LOVED so I was ready to hear some bangers and he absolutely delivered. There’s a song dedicated to an Asda is Bedminster which is really catchy. I hope there’s a cast album in the future, as there are some delightful tunes in this.
Overall, I really enjoyed this musical. It’s short and sweet as it clocks in at just under 90 minutes. I did feel there perhaps wasn’t much of a resolution in the end, but then I’d happily take a sequel musical if it meant spending time with these characters again.
Age Is A Feeling @ Soho Theatre*
Running until: 24th September 2022 at the current run, returning in Feb 2023.
Ticket link: https://sohotheatre.com/shows/age-is-a-feeling/
Age Is A Feeling is a call to arms about not regretting the time we spend growing older and to take chances were we can. Written in a second person perspective, writer and performer Haley McGee puts the audience in the hands of the story. In addition to this, there’s an interactive element with audience members choosing the stories that are told, so every show is different.
Haley McGee is a really fascinating storyteller. This is my first time experiencing her live performance and she is really gifted at holding an audience’s attention and making everyone in the audience feel connected. I do have to note, at the performance I attended, she did also call out an audience member for still having their phone on which was brilliant. The play itself is interesting with such a range of stories told throughout. I’m particularly intrigued in how the other stories that weren’t told at the performance I attended folded in, because some of them still had mentions within the other stories. And because of that, the storytelling did hit a bit of a loss on me at times.
I think it’s worth checking this out when it returns to the Soho Theatre next year, purely for Haley McGee’s excellent performance. I just think this perhaps wasn’t quite the right play for me.
Let me know what you have seen in the last week.