Saturday, March 25, 2006

Faust Part Two

I know that regular readers will have been eagerly awaiting this post, completing the theatrical saga for the Bonds which began with the trip to see Faust Part One on Tuesday (see here for my earlier ramblings). We saw Faust Part Two last night, and it evoked some quite different reactions amongst members of our party. I found Part One quite dramatically satisfying, covering the age-old tale of a man who sells his soul to the devil in return for pleasure, and ends up betraying the woman he falls in love with. Part One contained not only some classic philosophical declamations on "the meaning of life, the universe and everything", especially by Faust, but also some pleasing comedy of a verbal and a visual nature, and some quite effective relationship construction, especially between Faust and Mephisto and between Faust and Gretchen.

Last night's helping of theatre was about Faust's turn to power, and the way he ages as he destroys all those around him, including this time Helen of Troy. There was some obvious political commentary going on, including references to the American attack on Falluja and the war in Iraq generally, as well as some pointed critique of cruel and despotic political regimes generally. However, at the end, when Faust yields himself to Mephisto, when he admits that he wants a particular moment (of total power) to last for ever, somehow Faust is still 'saved' (and Mephisto loses his power) - it would appear because of the power of the female in a play which made much of the power of the turn to the female and the mother. I have to admit I was a bit lost here, and maybe my fellow bloggers and other commentators could help me out with further illumination. But the result was that I found it a rather unsatisfactory ending. I also found that while the play as a whole contained some powerful set piece presentations of argument and emotion, it lacked the same dramatic narrative qualities of Part One. Silly me, I seemed to be expecting a bit of a story which I could more or less follow, and what I got with Part Two was something that seemed a bit all over the place. I think this is something to do with Goethe's original which was not produced until 30 years after Part One and only when Goethe was an old man, and less to do with the adaptation; it certainly had very little to do with the performers who were as powerful yesterday as they were in Part One. But I was left standing at the edge of a big drop at the end of yesterday's episode, and I don't quite know where we go from here.

Anyway, I am very glad we went. Perhaps we'll make it to more plays during this year's Festivals.

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