Friday, February 5, 2010

Doctor Faustus

I recently took an all too short trip to Lancaster County and on my way up we stopped in Staunton to see Doctor Faustus at the American Shakespeare Center's Blackfriars Playhouse. Before the play we dropped by Cranberry's right as they were closing but they were kind enough to let me purchase two Newtown Baking multigrain wheat loaves. I love that stuff! We then had dinner at Mill Street Grill where I ran into ASC actor Ben Curns and ASC costume designer Erin West who chatted with me for a bit before we were seated. After a good meal we headed over to the Playhouse. We chatted a while with Emily Gibson, who recognized us from our many visits, before we took our seats. Going to the Blackfriars has definitely allowed me to meet some of the nice folks who work there and I enjoy talking with them. Before we saw Twelfth Night we chatted at length with Emily Baszner. She was so friendly and took a photo of my wife and I as it was our anniversary.

I had not read Faustus (though I had it with me and did read it on my trip), and my only exposure to it was the Richard Burton film version. I very much enjoyed the performance and will be seeing it again in March. We sat in the Lord's Chairs, but not our typical seats (still just two down from the normal ones- great seats). Rene Thornton, Jr. plays the title character. He does a tremendous job and his performance in the final act is captivating. Rene is a great actor, and this was a standout performance from him. Ben Curns is also wonderful as the cunning Mephistopheles. Ben does a great job playing evil, as does John Harrell who portrays Lucifer in a costume that you've got to see. Harrell also plays Pope Adrian VI, and plays it to the hilt- very funny when he is accosted by Faustus's magic. Miriam Donald brings the house down as Lechery during the Seven Deadly Sins scene, making me wish I had sat on the Gallant's Stools (as I told her when I left the playhouse). She and Sarah Fallon also portray good and evil angels, and Sarah also has a turn as Helen of Troy. Gregory John Phelps as Robin provides another stand-out performance. If you have never seen Faustus or if you are a fan of the play, you must see the ASC perform it during the Actor's Renaissance Season.

We will be seeing the rest of the ARS plays in about a month and I can't wait to see Doctor Faustus again.

John Harrell as Lucifer in Doctor Faustus. Photo by Tommy Thompson.