Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Faust: A Love Story

Faust: A Love Story, which recently played at BAM is as the production notes say inspired by Goethe and Marlowe, but it also owes a good deal to Peter Brook’s famous production of Midsummer Night’s Dream in which some actors swung on trapezes. In Faust: A Love Story, the fantasy elements are played out on a huge trampoline that creates the feeling of a spider’s web and also suggests the influence of Cirque du Soleil. The production notes credit The Master and Margarita, Murnau’s Faust (1926) and The Rolling Stone’s “Sympathy for the Devil,” but the uncredited relation to Shakespeare is what is what is most apparent in this recitation of the Faust myth by Vesturport Theatre and the Reykjavik City Theater directed by Gisli Orn Gardarsson--no matter that this dream also involves the hell described by Mephistopheles when he says to Faust, “Life never satisfied you so that you asked that a pathetic moment last forever.” Ground zero for Faust: A Love Story is a nursing home, where our Johann (played by Thorsteinn Gunnarsson), the prototype for Dr. Johann Georg Faust, the alchemist on whom the Faust legend was created, is a convalescing actor who has played every role but Faust. Johann’s hopeless infatuation for Greta (Unnar Osp Stefansdottir), one of the nurses at the home, is what motivates this Faust to sell his soul. Despite all the acrobatics, it is a curiosity of the current production that the actual staging of the story with its ageless Walpurgisnacht  (rendered brilliantly in Kurosawa's Ikiru by the way), never gets off the ground.

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