March 25th, 2007


On Friday, I went to see Punchdrunk's adaptation of Goethe's Faust to 1950s USA; possibly my favourite theatre experience ever. (Previously I would probably have cited Beautiful Thing.) Despite having had only 4 hours' sleep, I had a wonderful wonderful time.

This was no ordinary production:

  • it took place in a disused warehouse in London docklands

  • there are five floors with around 40 rooms

  • audience members wear a mask at all times

  • different parts of the plot happen in parallel

  • you are free to wander around as you please

The sets were detailed and fabulous and at times surreal: an alchemical laboratory, a pine forest, several bars, a diner, a corn field, an office, motel rooms, a family drawing room. At several points, audience members were pulled into the fray. At several points, I became part of a crowd of people running after an actor to follow the story. My role as an audience member was directly challenged, to the extent that my place in the world felt different when I came out.

A few mentions I found from the Grauniad which do it better justice than I are listed here.

My only regrets are that I spent more time than I would have liked searching for the action; and that the run, which ends on the 31st, is completely sold out so that I can't see it again. Nevertheless, I'll be keeping an eye out for future Punchdrunk productions; I hear tell that they have something new starting in September.