Ginger Hibiscus | Ginger Hibiscus | Faustaff or the Mockery of the Soul at the Cockpit Theatre
Ginger Hibiscus | Faustaff or the Mockery of the Soul at the Cockpit Theatre
Ginger Hibiscus | Faustaff or the Mockery of the Soul at the Cockpit Theatre
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21 Nov REVIEW: Faustaff or the Mockery of the Soul at the Cockpit Theatre

When hit crime author Gily Jacoby ends up fighting the inevitable descent into writers’ block, she has a reputation to maintain, desperate for The Bloody Life of Ponton to become another bestseller. But what if that inspiration comes at a cost? In Faustaff or the Mockery of the Soul, writer Diego Sosa presents “a modern day version of Faust that defines the role of women in society, portraying an ambitious woman willing to do anything for her success, even at the price of her own soul.’

An interesting retelling of such a widely appreciated story, this description seems to suggest that it has been rewritten almost exclusively to change the gender of the protagonist, a position that does a disservice to the content of the play and the ideas therein. The description labours a point that scarcely need be made, as Gily’s gender proves itself quite incidental to both plot and themes, and would hardly constitute a significant discussion point were it not drawn out so strongly in all of the marketing materials. But that’s not to say having Gily as a “she” is a bad thing – to the contrary, having a female lead who is an assertive, complex and career-driven woman with both formidable ambition and the capacity for compassion, is a nice touch in modernising the story – but it’s not the most notable point about the play.

More notable is the exploration of lightness and dark, and the spectral, rather than binary, nature of people when it comes to good versus evil, with Faustaff picking up on myriad themes tabled in Goethe’s original, playing them out in a very visual way as well as throwing in questions around artistic motivation and the blurred lines between mental ill-health and unusual experiences. Yet in reinterpreting an idea that’s so well known, so iconic, that it already has it’s own adjective (Faustian), little room remains to genuinely surprise audiences, and present them with fresh challenges – as you might expect, it’s consequently a play light on game-changing plot twists and heavy on the exposition.

Coming across as a touch under-rehearsed, Faustaff has the capacity to grow and develop as the run progresses; lines that are stumbled over will settle, and the couple of awkward moments when you’re not sure if something’s supposed to be funny or not will likely lift, as edits can be made to script and delivery. Academically speaking, with Faustaff, Sosa ticks a lot of boxes, including managing nods to a number of other authors who each have their own literary Fausts, from Thomas Mann to Christopher Marlowe. With considerable potential but still a long way to go, as it stands the play doesn’t yet feel to be in it’s final, finished and polished version.

Niggles aside, Faustaff is interesting in concept and fair in execution. There’s something quite irresistible about Eddie Chamberlain’s unabashedly camped up Devil, and the pair of hapless detectives that show up uninvited to Jacoby’s house are a welcome diversion from the relative intensity of the play. At 90 minutes straight through, it shows itself to be a surprisingly watchable update to Goethe’s Faust.

For tickets and information:
Venue: The Cockpit Theatre
Dates: 18th November – 6th December

Star Rating

Ginger Hibiscus don’t like using stars as a headline; we think they’re too reductionist, and that decision-making based on stars misses the point of a review. Just as you wouldn’t judge a personality using a five-point scale, theatre is multi-dimensional. So have a read, and then look at the stars afterwards.
Okay, fine, but how many stars do you give it? Click here