We saw the Creation Theatre’s production of Marlowe’s Dr. Faustus at Blackwell’s on Friday. Amazing to watch it surrounded by books in the Norrington Room.
I was amazed to realize how much of that sheer poetry I remembered from my undergraduate days–I have only seen Faust once since then.
Mephistopheles was a low-key demon who plaintively explains
Why this is hell, nor am I out of it.
Think’st thou that I who saw the face of God,
And tasted the eternal joys of Heaven,
Am not tormented with ten thousand hells,
In being depriv’d of everlasting bliss?
As a century later Milton’s Satan would say, “Which way I fly is Hell; myself am Hell…”
There was splendid poetry such as Faustus’s tribute to Helen of Troy
Was this the face that launch’d a thousand ships,
And burnt the topless towers of Ilium?
Sweet Helen, make me immortal with a kiss.
Her lips suck forth my soul: see where it flies!
Come, Helen, come, give me my soul again.
Here will I dwell, for heaven is in these lips,
And all is dross that is not Helena.
And then his anguished cries as the midnight nears,
O I’ll leap up to my God! Who pulls me down?
See, see where Christ’s blood streams in the firmament!
One drop would save my soul, half a drop: ah my Christ—
Ah, rend not my heart for naming of my Christ;
And the horror of eternity strikes him
O, if my soul must suffer for my sin,
Impose some end to my incessant pain;
Let Faustus live in hell a thousand years,
A hundred thousand, and at last be sav’d!
It was an amazing play, very dramatic, and played in an understated way.
On the face of it, Faustus made a sensible bargain. He did not believe in hell–or didn’t want to think of it–so for wealth, fame, success, sex, he bargains away his soul. Of course, as the hour of death neared, he had second thoughts….
Temptation was presented beautifully, with both the kindly and menacing angels speaking persuasively to Faustus’s shattered, tormented soul…
* * *
We had a fab and most stimulating weekend, though we were so shattered by Sunday that we did not go to church, which caused some guilt and sadness in me–not so much that I did not go to church, as because I did not take the girls, and that Roy would have profited, as would I.
Oh well, we had the plumber in during the morning for a leak, had a visitor whose visit spilled over the evening service, and felt so physically uncomfortable as I hadn’t exercised, that I chose the gym instead of church, and felt a whole lot better for it (probably).
When I am physically uncomfortable and haven’t exercised, I find it hard to pray. And a comfortable, well-exercised body does wonders for the soul.
And here are Zoe and Irene in the Norrington Room at Blackwells. Each of them, true bookworms, grabbed a book in the interval. Note what they grabbed