English: Pre-U Groups Attend RSC's 'Doctor Faustus'


On Wednesday 28 September, 40 Pre-U English Literature students and Mr Cheshire, Mr Sealey and Mrs Martin made the trip to London to see the Elizabethan tragedy, Christopher Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus performed by the Royal Shakespeare Company at The Barbican.

From the very first, we were treated to a gripping, intriguing spectacle, as once on stage the two actors lit a match to decide who would play Faustus, the brilliant academic who sells his soul to Lucifer, and who would play Mephistopheles, the devil’s cunning and faithful servant; the match that burnt out quickest placed actors to their roles.

In the performance we saw, Sandy Grierson played Mephistopheles and Oliver Ryan played Dr Faustus.


Both actors ensured that the vision of Maria Aberg, the director, was realised: the comedic touches of Marlowe’s play were perhaps put to one side, but the relationship between Faustus and Mephistopheles remained as close, convoluted and riddle-filled as Marlowe had, perhaps, intended it to be.

As the play unfolded, we revelled in Marlowe's language. A playwright whose beloved status preceded that of Shakespeare, he provided many iconic literary and visual devices which are now fully-integrated within our culture, such as the contradictions of a man characterised by Good and Evil angels.

In this stage of denouement, we saw Mephistopheles and other damned beings help Faustus do his will, and Faustus consequently becoming happy.


By the conclusion of the narrative however, Faustus is willing to do anything to repent and deeply regrets his decision, ultimately realising that only he and Lucifer are to blame for his fate and actions.

This was a fabulous production that amazed and surpassed our expectations, and it is already helping us progress with our analysis of the text back in the classroom.


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