Fringe Day 7, Part 4 - August 12, 2004, 10:00pm
This is a nifty little premise that riffs off a very old legend - the Faustian bargain, making a deal with the devil.
There are great many things about the genesis of this production which I like, first and foremost of which is that the producer/creators are one of several theatres to open their doors to the Fringe as a host for nearly a dozen other acts in the Festival. There's also the fact they challenged themselves to do something which, for them, was Fringey in their own Fringe offering - a brand new work, rather than merely a translation or adaptation of an existing classic text from another culture or time (which is the sort of fare they offer up, quite successfully, during their regular season). In keeping with their tradition of exploring the classics, they dug up Dr. Faust and put him through an inventive and fresh round of hell.
Nice to see the bad guy get a taste of his own medicine, particularly these days. Though I have to admit a little discomfort to find myself rooting for the Devil to win. But I'm OK with discomfort that causes me to think. That's what I go to this kind of theatre to see, especially at Fringe time.
Simple set up - beyond the door, a horrific funhouse ride in which Faust must personally experience the pain he has caused others - and there's a lot of pain to work through. Everyone from the family cat of his childhood to his adult daughter in the present day has come to a bad end, and the blame for each of these deaths lies squarely at Faust's feet. Since there isn't a special effects budget to do it justice, we are treated to the debriefing after Faust has gone through his ordeal. What could have been a dull or tedious interrogation is, thanks to a sharp, lean script, and even sharper performances by the three actors involved, a great piece of cathartic theatre.
To single out one of the actors would be foolish. Though Jeremy Cottrell has the bulk of the dialogue as Faust, Erik Wallin and Alisa Pritchett as his two tormentors make silence speak just as eloquently until the moments when the script sets them loose to exact vengeance, and payment of the Faustian bargain in full.
While I know the CalibanCo folks plan to continue delving into the classics in their own special way throughout the year, I would hope that the success of this new work spurs them to experiment further as part of their regular season, and not just wait til the Fringe rolls round again. Some things are too good to have to wait that long to see.
Visit their website - www.calibanco.org - to keep up on what they're doing beyond the Fringe.
(For more of my writing - plays, past blog entries and more - visit www.matthewaeverett.com)