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Sunday, August 24, 2014


(Sarah Richard & Clinton Small)

The age old story of Faust who sold his soul to the devil in return for unlimited knowledge, power and earthly pleasures has been the subject of many dramas, books, movies and even musical works.

In this tradition, Durban’s innovative Actors Unemployed Company premièred their modern version of the timeless story at the Seabrooke’s Theatre at Durban High School over the weekend.

Written and directed by Marc Kay it is a tight, succinct and entertaining two hander with a delightful twist in the tail.

John Stirling Faust (Clinton Small) is a young ambitious designer who in 1986 was struggling to make his mark in the world. His business was falling and seemed as if all is lost. He is approached by a very attractive and elegant woman (Sarah Richard) who - as it turns out - is Mephistopheles, a representative of the devil. He is offered a contract whereby he will enjoy 27 years of success, knowledge and all the earthly pleasures he can desire, after which he will be condemned to eternal damnation. In return, he has to give his soul to the devil. The ambitious Faust cannot resist this temptation and signs the contract.

As the play opens, it is 2013 and the 27 years will be up in a matter of hours. Faust and Mephistopheles come face to face once again to ensure that the final clause of the contract is executed.

Clinton Small puts in a powerful performance as the somewhat discontented Faust. He has a strong personality and is convincing as the businessman who has made the most of the opportunities afforded him by his unholy alliance, and is not quite ready to roll over and accept his fate.

Sarah Richard is a Johannesburg-based actress who made her Durban debut in this production. And what a debut it was. She was an absolute delight as the chic, sexy and devilish young woman who creates so much turmoil in Faust’s life. It was a fine performance and I, for one, hope to see her on stage in Durban again soon.

Due to its subject matter, Faust is obviously a story which is a little dark. It offers much food for thought and many life lessons. In fact, at one point Mephistopheles even gives the audience a mini lecture on morals and values in life.

Having said that, this version of Faust is enjoyable, entertaining and even, at times, pretty funny. It is well worth seeing if you get the opportunity. – Keith Millar