This started badly. Set in an old folks home in (presumably) Iceland at Christmas, it looks for five horrifying minutes like it’s just going to be some old guy in a dressing gown reading out the whole of a pretty average translation of Goethe’s Faust in a (presumably) Icelandic accent.
The Young Vic (now with gloriously un-unreserved seating) is transformed into a hellish circus space in which the action takes place in front and, more often than not, above you.
The stagecraft here is highly theatrical rather than magical – the wires are meant to show and they do – but there’s no doubting the impact. There are some truly spectacular moments.
The plot too feels like it has been subsumed below the quest for boundary-pushing form, but that doesn’t matter too much – there are dozens of productions a year which tell the story of Faust in a workaday fashion, and that’s not the point here.
The point here is really a radical reinvention of both the story and the conventions of theatre. In the end it is the latter that’s most memorable, but it is pretty memorable indeed.
PS. May I humbly recommend choosing the stalls over the circle?