Punchdrunk, Faust

Review in Issue 19-1 | Spring 2007

I kept running into the devil, who kept touching me. He pushed his spread hand into my stomach, stroked the back of my head, told me, ‘Follow.’ He seemed to be everywhere. Right at the end, in the basement, I saw him in the one scene which made perfect sense to me, where Mephistopheles claims Faust by flinging himself at him, lying on him, walking all over him, and eventually knocking him down. There was some sort of immense requiem playing throughout, and the whole sequence was about as dramatic and powerful as I guess a heart attack must be.

As with previous Punchdrunk productions, Faust was a site-specific piece where the audience wear masks and wander around a huge space (in this case a five-storey warehouse) encountering scenes. Chronology is broken; you have to work out who is who. Myself, I never really understood anything. Or I understood events, but could not link them. I watched a man drink one entire bottle of gin, but had no idea why he drank it. I saw two men shut a woman in a locker, but I had no idea who they were. Part of me is frustrated to be told that something is a puzzle and then not be given the means to solve it, but the space, the lighting, the set design, and the dances (solo and ensemble) are all gorgeous, and you could see no performance – just spend all your time in the cornfield or the church or the recreated ’50s motel rooms, going through drawers – and still have a fine time. There is a level of detail that I’ve never really seen before, and if it doesn’t exactly cohere, that’s a price worth paying.

Presenting Artists
Date Seen
  1. Nov 2006

This article in the magazine

Issue 19-1
p. 25