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REVIEW: Faustus: that Damned Woman (Royal Conservatoire of Scotland)

Updated: Feb 10

BA Acting 2023

Royal Conservatoire of Scotland

18 November 2022


RCS Faustus that Damned Woman pre-set. Photo credit Robbie McFadzean

Yet again The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (RCS) have introduced me to new work!

I love going to RCS shows because the quality is high and the students are always excellent. But it also gives me an opportunity to see shows that I otherwise would never have heard of, or that aren't being performed elsewhere in Scotland.

Faustus: That Damned Women was first performed at the Lyric Hammersmith Theatre in 2020. Written by Chris Bush, this play takes the well known Faust / Dr Faustus myth (he who sells his soul to the devil) and retells it from a female perspective. And it works brilliantly! In this play we meet Johanna Faustus who tries to summon the Devil to find out if her mother, who was hanged as a witch, signed away her soul to him.

Faustus That Damned Woman cast. Photo credit: Jacob Martin Walls

Straight away this premise is far more interesting than any of the original stories. Johanna Faustus is already poorly treated by men, she has no status or means of living on her own, what does she have to loose by dealing with the Devil?

As always, the final year students of the RCS BA Acting course knock it out of the park. Molly Geddes gives a tour-de-force performance as Faustus. So physically demanding yet with so many lines to deliver. From being near drowned in a bucket of water, to well - other horrific experiences - I don't know how she made it through the first act upright.

The cast of Faustus That Damned Woman: Photo credit Robbie McFadzean

The staging and set is wonderful, almost 'in the round' with a central focus fire pit. The Chandler Theatre at the Royal Conservatoire was eerily atmospheric but also absolutely boiling hot. I presume we were meant to feel like we were in Hell. And with a strong smoky incense filling the air, I found it all a bit too heady. I even looked around for a window / escape route at one point. The whole cast, the production team and the FOH did such a good job working in the heat. Sweat was dripping off everyone.

The blood! I don't know how they do it.

*Spoiler alert* When Faustus cut her arm, I was sitting about 3 feet away and I have NO IDEA how that was done. The same with RCS's production of Sweeney Todd earlier this year. I was sitting pretty close to some of the throat slitting and the blood looked real to me. Very clever. It must be magic!

The cast of Faustus That Damned Woman: Photo credit Robbie McFadzean

I have loved both shows that the BA Acting class have put on this month, and both this and A Very Expensive Poison are obviously team efforts with excellent sets, lighting and music from the BA Production courses too.

Bravo to everyone involved. I can't wait to come to the next show.

[Review first posted on Instagram 21 November]

Faustus That Damned Woman at RCS. Photo credit: Jacob Martin Walls

📸 Production photo credits: Robbie McFadzean and Jacob Martin Walls.

📸 Find Lisa in the Theatre on Instagram for lots of photos, videos and fun stagey content

◼️ REVIEW: Faustus: that Damned Woman (Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, RCS, BA Acting 2023)

Lisa in the Theatre, UK Theatre and Arts blogger


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