Theatre review: Kit Harrington in Doctor Faustus

The devil is in the detail for West End play starring the former Game of Thrones star.

Kit Harrington
Burying Jon Snow Harrington has a lot more on his mind as Faustus. Image Marc Brenner

Doctor Faustus
Duke of York’s Theatre
Monday April 25

On the same day as Game of Thrones fans caught a first glimpse of the sixth series of the show, Kit Harrington well and truly buried his character of Jon Snow and transformed into troubled Doctor Faustus at the Duke of York’s theatre in London’s West End.

First off, the stars were out in force in support of Harrington, with Game of Thrones co-stars Alfie Allen and Natalie Dormer seated in the audience, as well as Spandau Ballet’s Gary Kemp and comedian Jack Whitehall.

Outside the theatre, a large group of die-hard Harrington fans had been gathered since early afternoon and would remain there until well after curtain call in an attempt to catch a glimpse of the long-haired star.

Doctor Faustus, which is directed by Jamie Lloyd, is a reworking of Christopher Marlowe’s iconic 16th century play, featuring two new acts by Colin Teevan.

The play, which marks Harrington’s first return to the stage since 2010, sees philosopher Faustus sell his soul to the devil, and later become a Las Vegas illusionist.

The ensuing gratuitous and blood splattering scenes make some parts of Game of Thrones look like Sesame Street

Fans of the original Marlowe play from 1592 may struggle with the modern additions to the production that are present from the offset, including an Apple Mac, modern kitchen, television set and Faustus himself dribbling into a can of beer, and that’s just the opening scene…

Still, at least it’s clear what Teevan and Lloyd are attempting from the offset. A strict reworking of Marlowe’s masterpiece this is not.

Kit Harrington
Modern take This Doctor Fausus owns a Mac and has a penchant for air guitar.

Theatre-goers are warned upon entry that the play contains adult content and some nudity, and that’s putting it lightly. The ensuing gratuitous and blood splattering scenes make some parts of Game of Thrones look like Sesame Street.

Harrington, it must be said, puts in an unrelenting and passionate performance from start to finish, a constant and impressive presence on the stage. He seems very much at ease with the workings of classical theatre, even when the modern twist results in him baring his buttocks to the audience while sporting blood-stained boxers…

Other highlights included Tom Edden making his way through the Seven Deadly Sins, as well as the amusing introduction of “Loving You” as Faustus battles with his deadly decisions and finds himself tempted by love and his assistant Grace.

Were the modern re-workings necessary or just an attempt to bring in a new audience to theatre? As someone who studied Doctor Faustus in University, the play seemed perfectly understandable as it was, consisting of themes of greed and fame seeking that have managed to prevail through the centuries.

Just as it was would have been good. Harrington is certainly good enough and I left wishing I had seen him in an original production.

Still, it’s sure to endure a successful run and it’s certainly worth a look as there’s nothing else quite like it on stage today.

Doctor Faustus runs until June 25: 0844 871 7623Theatre review: Kit Harrington in Doctor Faustus

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