Doctor Faustus, The Nightingale, until February 16, 0800 4118881

First published in The Critic by

A geeky post-grad who lets the prospect of unearned pleasures go to his head is the theme behind The Barefoot Players’ take on Marlowe’s classic. Hedonism and hell – plenty to get your teeth/fangs into there.

Weird references to current affairs – such as the Pope calling out “I resign” after being pelted with custard pies – add to the hysterical sense of confusion, while the costumes are even more off-the wall – a tutu-clad Lucifer with what look like bacon rashers stuck to her face and neck.

The introduction of the Seven Deadly Sins is the highlight of the evening – ever wondered what pride, covetousness, wrath, envy, gluttony, sloth and lechery look like? Well, here they are, in all their charity shop-costumed glory, belting out Highway To Hell and sending us to the bar for the interval.

James Davies’ under-confident, bewildered Faustus does little to help things go with a swing, while David Allerton’s Wagner makes lumpen porridge of his lines. However, Andy Mansell is a commendably contemptuous Mephistopholes and Becca Chandler pours a dose of tangible passion into her charismatic Good Angel.

For all its faults, you can’t help but enjoy this rash, brash, endearing show – it’s what fringe was made for.

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