BWW Review: FAUST at OPERA WROCLAW - Pleasant to Eye Light (And) Devil
I can say for sure that this play can be for everyone: a contemporary, vibrant version of big classic Faust is exposing new and friendly face for those who want to see an opera show stripped of excessive seriousness. Scenography, choir, characters are tailored to the 21st century 160 years after its premiere in Paris.
The main topic of this play is hunt for youth. Old talented alchemist Faust is bored with life so much that makes a pact with devil so he can be young again. What is interesting this wise man doesn't want nothing but happy life with full of pleasure moments. Evil Mephistopheles fulfills his request and this journey is about to start. Faust takes from life as much as he can - besides others, young and beautiful Marguerite is falling for him, gets pregnant which leads to exposing herself to insults and abuse as Faust is willing to pursue pleasureful paths.
What comes to my mind when I think about this play is the word: light. First because light effects are pretty important and brings a lot in atmosphere which is... light as well. Contemporary clothes, dogs, fires, special effects - all those extras make Faust a very successful performance easy to watch.
First act is full of joy and amusement. Faust catches Mephistopheles's bait, he's young - full of life and has nothing to lose. There are pieces full of life (the one in the bar is one my favorites). Big ensemble is full of spirits and enthusiasm, they sing, dance and apparently have a lot of fun with a touch of delightful grotesque during Marguerite's song when she tries on gifts received from Faust. Scenes changes with moving scenography and spectator is taken by action nice and smoothly. Mephistopheles (great great great Tomasz Rudnicki) is devious companion in leather gloves - a little gnomish but elegant. I loved this part a lot. Devil is restrained, stolid but very chic. He has something that wins your sympathy even thought it's obvious he's not a good character. His grace and style take audience hearts straight away. I loved absolutely everything about this figure, his posture, moves, not to mention excellent French diction.
Second act is different and much more dark and sad as characters are faced to consequences of their acts. Choir is not joyful drinking company anymore but measuring corollary in a mean and ruthless way. There is darkness and Mephistopheles is not bonny diabolic creature but dangerous black character, sophisticated and in power. It's clear that from the beginning it was not just innocent play and action makes audience sure that the pleasantry is over. Choir is dark, powerful and even kind of brutal. Suddenly atmosphere is not nice and easy but harsh and ferocious as Marguerite is lost and lonely, hopeless, not able to escape a cruel environment.
The director, Beata Redo-Dobber, made dynamic and vigorous show on a big scale with great lightening (Maciej Igielski) and multimedia projections (Piotr Maruszak) what will not leave spectator bored. Cast is well chosen, Marguerite (Iwona Socha) is vibrant, full of hope and fragile, Faust (Lukasz Gaj) determined with a lot of strength in the beginning and enriched by humility at the end. Worth to mention are Valentin (perfect in this role Szymon Komasa) - Marguerite's brave brother and Siebel (Aleksandra Opala) young boy hopelessly in love with her.
Play is easy to watch - pleasant to eye and ear. As this is contemporary version of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe masterpiece from 19th century there are a lot of fresh breezes and unobvious solutions which only proof that this piece of art is truly universal.
Photo credit: Opera Wroclaw