Basement Theatre of Tbilisi, Georgia, Faust

Review in Issue 15-2 | Summer 2003

It is not often you see a show with ten puppeteers and three actors. It is just as rare to see any attempt at Goethe's Faust, which is a very demanding dramatic territory. Enclosed within a story frame of an old man in an asylum having a nightmare, they took the more easily understood part of the story – Faust's pact with the devil and his love of Gretchen. Though Goethe redeems his Faust, in this version Mephistopheles remained firmly in control.

The wonderful puppets, designed and created by Nutsa Dolakidze, with carved wooden heads, hands and sometimes feet, required three puppeteers for full manipulation, in the so-called 'table puppet' style. This was done with thin metal rods to the relevant parts, creating a dance-like choreography between the puppeteers.

Beautifully co-ordinated expressive movements and gestures brought the characters alive and made the puppeteers disappear. I particularly loved the hands of Mephistopheles whose gestures had a precision and directness naturally expressive of his character.

Three actors, sitting at a table fully visible to the audience, speaking the character roles (in Georgian) with the aid of microphones, drove the action on stage. Which begged the question, 'Why puppetry?' If I had understood the language, did I need the puppetry to illustrate the text? On the other hand, if the voices had been removed would I have seen the story? Probably not.

Nevertheless the production would have been much richer, and developed very differently, if they had trusted the puppets to tell the story

Presenting Artists
Presenting Festival
Presenting Venue
Date Seen
  1. May 2003

This article in the magazine

Issue 15-2
p. 24 - 25