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Doctor Faustus, theatre review: ‘Game of Thrones fans get to see Jon Snow’s bum’

PUBLISHED: 17:00 04 May 2016

Kit Harington in Doctor Faustus. Picture: Mark Brenner

Kit Harington in Doctor Faustus. Picture: Mark Brenner

Archant

Pity the Game of Thrones fans who shell out West End ticket prices to bathe in Kit Harington’s celebrity glow, and get Jamie Lloyd’s chaotic mash up of Marlowe and modern dress.

Even for this seasoned critic it’s a hard-going night out as we segue from Elizabethan morality play to Colin Teevan’s contemporary updating.

We move from Faustus’ student-y suburban semi, where tortured souls spewing black froth pop out of every beige cupboard and dance on the taps – into the flashy celebrity world of a Las Vegas illusionist, who tricks Presidents into writing cheques for the poor.

Lloyd attempted a similar blend of pitch black humour, sexual violence (against women), song and dance routine and satire in Peter Barnes’ The Ruling Class last year.

Though I disliked that too, Harington suffers by comparison with the more experienced James McAvoy who better handled the wild tonal shifts. Uncomfortable with the dialogue of the opening scenes he is also burdened by Teevan’s strained grafting of the Faustian pact onto contemporary celebrity.

It’s not clever or funny enough to supersede the cliche and Lloyd’s relish of gore, puke, dildos, faeces and bile with jazz hands jigging doesn’t help.

While never nailing Faustus’ inner struggle or the tragedy of his unbreakable vow, he fares better as the tortured soul of later scenes.

The devil, it turns out is a Scotsman in grubby underpants (Forbes Masson) and the ever-excellent Jenna Russell lends able support – and an interval rendition of Meatloaf’s Bat Out of Hell - as the nightie-clad Mephistopheles.

Jade Anouka offers the lone empathetic figure as the pure-hearted Wagner who falls for the germ of goodness in John Faustus. But For GOT fans, the only crumbs of comfort are a couple of flashes of Harington’s bum.

Doctor Faustus is at Duke of York’s Theatre in the West End.

Rating: 2/5 stars.

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