Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Hooray for Christopher Marlowe

I attended a performance of Doctor Faustus this evening at the Utah Shakespearean Festival here in Cedar City. The play, written in 1589, is said to be one of the oldest in the English language, and deals with a Doctor John Faustus who sells his soul to the devil for 24 years of guaranteed life, while also being granted supernatural powers and supreme knowledge through the black arts of necromancy. His personal dealings with Lucifer are alternately funny, terrifying and philosophically profound. This play pricks a lot of raw nerves.

The production was wonderfully staged and the costumes, especially those of Lucifer and the Seven Deadly Sins, were stunningly rendered, while Ben Livingston was magnificently cast as Mephistopheles. It was great to see what a 21st century stage can do to enhance and embellish a 16th century play. The special effects and lighting was top notch!

I have been a big fan of Christopher Marlowe since I was 16, when I dropped out of high school (from acute boredom) and began devouring Elizabethan drama from the public library and second-hand bookstores. I instantly became enamored with the rich metaphorical language of this master of blank verse, along with the works of Shakespeare, Ben Jonson and Sir Francis Bacon.

To God?-He loves thee not.
The God thou serv'st is thine own appetite...

It's great to still be stirred by these timeless words as I creak on into middle age.

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