Doctor Faustus  
Doctor Faustus

by Christopher Marlowe

Directed by Lucy Bloxham

Tuesday 31st January-
Saturday 4th February, 2017

The Tower Theatre performing at Theatro Technis, Camden

Photography by David Sprecher

Cast List

Doctor Faustus : Jonathon Cooper
Mephistopheles : Robert Reeve
Pope / Lucifer : Nigel Oram
Wagner : Matthew Vickers
First Scholar / Sin / Friar / Paramour : Landé Belo
Second Scholar / Sin / Friar / Knight : Matt Cranfield
Bad Angel / Bruno / Attendant : James McKendrick
Good Angel / Raymond : Anton Renouf
Cornelius / Sin / Devil / Cardinal / Alexander : Samuel Currie-Smith
Duchess / Sin / Cardinal / Devil : Niki Mylonas
Beelzebub / Devil / Attendant : Izzy Gahan
Emperor / Archbishop : Ian Hoare
Old Man : Robert Pennant Jones
Duke / Sin : Alexander Grant
Valdes / Envy / Helen of Troy : Jessica Bailes


 

Production Team

Director : Lucy Bloxham
Set Design : Michael Bettell
Costume Design : Julia Collier
Lighting Design : Adam Taylor
Sound Design : William David

Stage Manager : Izzy Gahan
Assistant Director : Karen Sheard
Text Coach : Robert Pennant Jones
Movement Coach : Lily Ann Coleman
Assistant Stage Managers : Stephen Brasher, Richard Davies
Lighting Operator : Jessie Baker
Set Construction and Get-in : Keith Syrett, Michael Bettell, Jude Chalk, Rosie Shipman, Phillip Ley, John McSpadyen



Most are familiar with Christopher Marlowe's play and the seven deadly sins which haunt Doctor Faustus in this Elizabethan tragedy. Few may be aware that Faustus is described in the traditional Chorus as being from 'base stock' yet ambitious enough to become a physician and professor of divinity at Wittenberg University. Even then his undeniable thirst for greater worldly knowledge leads him to summon the demon Mephistopheles and his Faustian pact with Lucifer.

The Tower Theatre Company tackle his tormented spiritual journey with enough of a modernist tilt to stay true to Marlowe's vision but not even the great Marlowe was blessed with the pluck to give the deadly sin of Lust a Benny Hill-like characterisation. Actually, Benny Hill in a leopard-skin mini skirt leering and salivating all over Faustus after the Seven Deadly Sins strut out onto the stage as if it were a fashion show, led by a white-turbaned, red-lip-sticked, incredibly camp Pride who'd make John Inman pale in comparison.

Are You Being Served? You will be because this magnetic and fixating production directed by Lucy Bloxham offers a clever take on the Faustian tragedy with lead actor Jonathan Cooper conducting this quest for limitless knowledge with an anguished, spirited and passionate performance which suggests a sliver of demonic possession even before the angels warn him of Lucifer.

Many of the cast play several parts, switching effortlessly as they do so. Notable, in this respect is a scene where Faustus messes up the Pope. Faustus attends a papal feast and is invisible to the guests but intent on causing havoc. A good few of the sombre clergymen around the table were also in earlier scenes donning mini skirts, turbans, Sly and the Family Stone-style felt hats and iPhone head sets when parading as the seven deadly sins.

This, of course, doesn't apply to Robert Reeve as Mephistopheles. His powerful presence and basey tones are central to Lucifer's demon alone. The long leather jacket is a nice touch by costume designer Julia Collier. If Neo and Morpheus wore them in the Matrix when confronting the forces of evil and during their own struggles to tackle universal knowledge then the metaphor can be just as easily flipped here.

One might also see something deeper in Mephistopheles' demands for the contract be written in blood. By the end of the performance, these incisions scratch deep and might make one or two in the audience ponder which side of the line they're on or whether such a line should exist at all. This applies if the discussion here is not just Faustus' extremity of actions and his discomfort but the universal acceptance of who draws the moral lines and with which authority. Much of the supernatural, with modern wisdom, now falls into the realms of either fairy tales/superstition or just undiscovered science. However, as regards a morality tale the cuts into Faustus' arm are an apt metaphor for one who will step over the line regardless of the stake.

Ultimately, the Elizabethan era's uncomfortable relationship between science and religion is examined. Science forever emerging, religion forever self-protective and the inevitable tension between the two. Also, the suggestion that anything outside the bounds of common knowledge must be ungodly until science or religion proves it otherwise safe. Like the Greek myth of Icarus or even Prometheus, it is a cautionary tale about knowing when to stop looking too deeply and be satisfied with who you are, what you have and what you know.Tony, Cleo whole production. Another triumph for the Tower!

Four-star review by Eddie Saint-Jean in What's Hot London


London's most active amateur theatre company, The Tower Theatre, has been in business for more than 80 years - but shows no sign of getting tired. Their new production of Doctor Faustus at Theatro Technis is dramatic, intense and gripping, and while it may not have Kit Harington in his pants, at least in this version we can all keep track of what's going on.

Doctor Faustus, or to give Christopher Marlowe's play its full title, The Tragical History of the Life and Death of Doctor Faustus, is the story of a bored German intellectual, who sells his soul to Lucifer in exchange for 24 years on Earth, the ability to use magic, and the devoted service of the demon Mephistopheles. The years pass, and Faustus becomes famous all over the world - but it's only when his time begins to run out that he realises what a huge mistake he's made.

The Tower Theatre's production, directed by Lucy Bloxham, is a relatively traditional interpretation of Marlowe's text, featuring two central performances that wouldn't look out of place on a professional stage. Jonathon Cooper is charmingly eccentric as Faustus, skilfully embodying every side of the character: the frustrated genius, the cocky celebrity and the terrified dead man walking. It's hard to feel sympathy for a man who's entirely responsible for his own downfall, but Cooper's Faustus is just likeable enough that we can't help hoping he'll find a loophole as his final minutes tick away. He's joined by Tower Theatre veteran Robert Reeve as Mephistopheles, the demon charged with sweet-talking Faustus into giving up his soul, and then being his constant companion for 24 years until it's time to collect on the debt. Dressed all in black, Reeve radiates a quiet authority, and it's clear from his sly grin whenever Faustus isn't looking who's really in control of the situation.

The rest of the cast take on multiple roles, most memorably having a bit of fun with the seven deadly sins (in the case of Lust, played by Matt Cranfield, perhaps a bit too much fun). This and a couple of later scenes provide welcome moments of light relief in what is, let's face it, not exactly the happiest of stories.

First-time director Lucy Bloxham makes effective use of the large stage area at Theatro Technis, with multiple entrances (including the one to hell, which is positioned alarmingly close to the audience) and a curtained off area behind which Lucifer himself appears to Faustus. There's one slightly clunky set change in Act 2, which could benefit from something for the audience to look at while the furniture's cleared away, but on the whole transitions between scenes are clean and efficient. And the clock that regularly appears to tick down the minutes until Faustus' downfall is a nice dramatic touch, as is Adam Taylor's lighting design, which creates a suitably hellish atmosphere throughout.

Once again, The Tower Theatre Company have made it clear that amateur doesn't have to mean unprofessional or poor quality. Every member of the company volunteers their time and talent for the sheer love of theatre, and that passion shines through in this and every production I've seen. Who needs Kit Harington?

Review in the Blog of Theatre Things



Jonathon Cooper's previous shows with the Tower include Mother's Day and Hindle Wakes. He has performed in SEDOS shows Man of La Mancha, Reefer Madness and, most recently, The Ritual Slaughter of Gorge Mastromas. Jonathon is a member of the National Youth Theatre and can be seen for a couple of seconds on the big screen in Rogue One : A Star Wars Story.
 
Robert Reeve was first let loose on stage in 1971. His roles for the Tower include Toad in The Wind In The Willows, Warbucks in Annie, Henry II in The Lion In Winter, Dracula in Dracula, Danforth in The Crucible, The Stranger in The Lady From The Sea, Salzella in Maskerade, Booth in The Voysey Inheritance, Walpole in The Doctor's Dilemma and Judge Brack in Hedda Gabler.
Nigel Oram has appeared in two previous Tower productions (Farragut North and Othello). He also recently tried his hand at stage managing (Clybourne Park) and has operated sound and/or lighting for Major Barbara, Travesties, Someone Who'll Watch Over Me, Mother's Day, Charlie's Aunt and The Night Heron. After Doctor Faustus, he is very much looking forward to playing Merriman in the Tower production of The Importance of Being Earnest both at the Bridewell Theatre in London and on tour to the Gorton Theatre in Gloucester, Massachusetts in April.
 
Matthew Vickers has been involved with the Tower Theatre since Popcorn in 2003. More recently he has appeared in Coyote on a Fence, Foxfinder and Clybourne Park. He is very much looking forward to playing Wagner and Gluttony.
Landé Belo has performed with various theatre companies in London, Paris and Montpellier, including La Compagnie Maritime, Garden Suburb Theatre and Incognito Theatre. Previous roles include Estelle in Huis Clos, Clotilde in Clotilde du Nord, Judas in Une Forte Odeur de Pomme, Fay in A Chorus Of Disapproval and Beatrice in Much Ado About Nothing. This is her second production with the Tower Theatre; her first was Clybourne Park in which she played Francine and Lena.
 
Ian Hoare has acted in more than twenty productions for the Tower, and last year made his debut as a Tower director with Hindle Wakes.
This is James McKendrick's fifth Tower production; he played Schu and Eddie in The Return of the Marionettes, Mr. Waterton in Mother's Day, the tragic postman Yegor in Dying For It and Professor Leopold Nettles in Largo Desolato. Other acting credits include Dinner (Mike), Glengarry Glen Ross (Shelley Levene), Separate Tables (John Malcolm), The Real Inspector Hound (Birdboot), Antigone (Creon) and 45 Minutes To Go (Jerry), for which he received best actor award at the Waltham Forest Festival. He has directed Jim Cartwright's Road, Two and Bed, the latter receiving best play and best director awards at the 2013 Waltham Forest Festival. He has also performed at the Edinburgh, Brighton and Prague Fringe Festivals and in productions that transferred to the Orange Tree Theatre and Riverside Studios.

 
Anton Renouf is 19 years old and Doctor Faustus is his first production for the Tower Theatre Company. He is on a Gap Year and is doing acting in Oxford and London with a view of going to drama school next year. He is looking forward to being in more productions for the Tower and getting as much experience as possible in backstage as well as onstage. He is interested in Daoist Martial Arts and is going to China later in the year to study at a monastery for a month.
Samuel Currie-Smith is appearing in his second role with the Tower Theatre; his first was Leary in Sherlock Holmes. This followed 3 years of intense study into Drama and Theatre when he was in productions such as One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Top Girls and The Accidental Death Of An Anarchist. He has also performed many monologues and a play he co-wrote called Beached.
 
Niki Mylonas trained as an actor at the late Webber Douglas Academy. She is also an author of non-fiction, a playwright and a producer, director and lead actor at Classical Radio Drama. Most recent credits include : Nurse in Romeo and Juliet, Lady Macbeth and Third Witch in Macbeth, Mrs Shliefke in Her Naked Skin , Kate in Brighton Beach Memoirs and Queen Anne in Brandy for which she won best actress award! Doctor Faustus is Niki's ninth project with the Tower.
Robert Pennant Jones joined the Tower in 1962 and directed both parts of Tamburlaine the Great for Marlowe's 400th birthday in 1964. More recently he arranged and produced a fundraising programme for the Rose Theatre Bankside entitled The Genius of Christopher Marlowe with a stellar professional cast. His latest production for the Tower was Waiting for Godot and he played King Lear in 2015 in London and Paris.
 
Alexander (Ian) Grant trained at East 15 Acting School. This is his fifth production for the Tower; he has previously appeared in Hindle Wakes (Upstairs at the Gatehouse, 2016), Largo Desolato (Theatro Technis, 2014), The Taming of the Shrew (Theatro Technis and Paris, 2013) and Britannicus (Canonbury Tower, 1972). Other theatre includes : Coverage (Courtyard Theatre), Cyrano de Bergerac (Corbett Theatre), Macbeth (Cockpit Theatre), Hamlet (Bridewell Theatre), The Recruiting Officer (Minack Theatre), The Beaux' Stratagem (Penzance Arts Centre), Pericles (Minack Theatre), The Comedy of Errors (touring and CambridgeADC), Measure for Measure (touring) and Troilus and Cressida (Minack Theatre).
This is Matt Cranfield's first show with the Tower Theatre Company, and his first full performance since 2005. Previously he has appeared as Lear in King Lear and Lysander in A Midsummer Night's Dream with Essex University Theatre Arts Society, and in an original play called Again at the 2003 Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
 
This is Jessica Bailes' first show with the Tower. She is a recent graduate from the University of Oxford with a degree in English Language and Literature. Jessica is enjoying gaining experience in amateur dramatics in London with a view to going to drama school next year. She is on the Tower marketing team and looks forward to auditioning for future Tower productions.
Izzy Gahan joined the Tower backstage in Spring 2016 as an assistant stage manager for Brontë. She subsequently became an acting member. Her past theatre credits include The Winter's Tale, A Midsummer Night's Dream and Much Ado About Nothing.
 
Lucy Bloxham has been a member of the Tower Theatre for almost two years. She began as Assistant Stage Manager on the Tower's 2015 production of King Lear, and went on to become Assistant Director for Othello and Charley's Aunt. While this is her first time directing, she has always wanted to stage Doctor Faustus having studied it during her Master's Degree in Early Modern English, which she completed last year.