note: entire contents copyright 2002 by Larry Stark
Set Design by Michael F. Walker
Lighting Design by Greg Jutkiewicz
Costume Design by Emily Brandt, Rosemarie Ellis
Sound Design by Michael F. Walker
Costume & Properties Assistance Todd Hearon, Mel Pino
Dramaturg Mike Pino
Production Manager Kevin Kidd
Stage Manager Emily Brandt
Scholar, Lucifer, Friar, Charles V
Scholar, Devil, Envy, Friar, Paramour of Alexander
OZZIE CARNAN, JR.
Devil, Beelzebub, Friar, Alexander The Great, Duke of Vanholt
Evil Angel, Sloth, Duchess of Vanholt, Helen
Devil, Gluttony, Pope, Vintner
Cornelia, Pride, Friar, Horse-Courser
Valdes, Rafe, Covetousness, Friar, Knight, Devil
Robin, Wrath, Cardinal of Lorraine
Good Angel, Attendant, Scholar
Like other excellent local companies, The Bridge persists in doing good theater on a shoestring budget by depending on what The Lyric Stage of Boston has called "The Power of The Spoken Word". I am sorry to be so late in discussing their latest --- a surprisingly contemporary production of Kit Marlowe's "Doctor Faustus". Apparently Marlowe had as much a flaire for poetry and imagination as that actor fellow Wilm Shaxpy, yet none of Shakespeare's feeling for dramatic forms or coherent narrative. Consider:
This production lists 43 different characters --- with eleven actors playing 41 of them --- ranging from comic servants to Emperor Charles V and The Pope, then half a dozen Devils (including Lucifer himself), personifications of all seven deadly sins, and the ghosts of Alexander The Great and his paramour. The Bridge hasn't budget enough for the dozen or so grandiloquent sets another, richer company may have envisioned; instead they move the action about by resettling a series of jet-black plastic curtains and half a dozen bits of furniture and hand-props. Todd Hearon's Faustus is tempted by friends and by good and bad angels toward holiness and damnation, honesty and personal greed while sitting at a book-covered desk presided over by a skull.
Jeffrey Jones' Mephistopheles, with a prehensile, snake-like neck, signals his other-worldliness by perching, his cloven feet at the edge, upon that desk much as the old painting of "Nightmare" perched on a sleeper's breast, languidly surveying that worldly "Hell" he insists he never really leaves.
The whole is narrated in prologue by Paula Carter with decidedly contemporary directness. She appears first in a derby and close-fitting vest looking like someone out of Brecht by way of Bob Fosse, and only later reappears as the sinuous writhe personifying Lechery.
Most of Marlowe's characters flit into existence for only a few lines of quick dialogue, as in a dream-play. Director Michael F. Walker seems to have reached into the stew of scenes almost as randomly as Marlowe wrote them, keeping his eye on Faustus and his own personal devil as often as possible.
This review should have been written over a week ago, when it would do the company and any undecided as to try this play much good. All I can say at this late date is that some of the comic servants and occasionally other lines may remind you of Shagsberd, but Marlowe leaps o'er time and space more quickly and less coherently than that actor ever did. Perhaps the only way to do a modern production of "Doctor Faustus" would be with film. And until someone tries, this Bridge Theatre Company attempt brings Kit's spoken words as vibrantly alive as possible.