FAUST + GRETA | STAGE REVIEW
Pontio Arts Centre, Bangor [livestream], Fri 18 June
Goethe’s Faust has always felt out of reach for me, portraying the task of instigating a dreamlike form of living between Heaven and Hell. This purgatory has been overtaken by the collective reality of lockdown. Faust + Greta – as co-produced by Frân Wen, Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru and Pontio – is an innovative livestream which enables audiences to engage with this realm as the narrative unfolds before us.
With its dialogue in Welsh, Faust + Greta’s use of language underpins the relationships between the ensemble. Beckoning me into a void of promiscuity, lustful thoughts, toxic relationships and raves, this is a story of young love, yet we witness flirtation descend into obsessive behaviour. This aspect of the narrative feels juxtaposed between ancient and modern, the use of Welsh adding an extra dimension: transposing the story into Modern Wales. With a palpable energy throughout, and the feeling of a choreographed dance production despite not actually being that, a moment in which the floor drops away from the scene was genuinely unforeseen. I would implore anyone to watch it.
The production begins with a digital countdown clock, which frames the setting in the present and follows us to the end. It hits the ground running with a ritualistic ceremony, portrayed on split screens – given zoomed-in and birds-eye views, we feel closer to the action. Showing the camera crew as part of the production felt as if we were being let into a secret understanding of how Faust + Greta was made.
Its stark use of lighting and sound is wondrous, its visual exploration of our current circumstances of social distancing clever. As a learner of Welsh, the show was a jump into the deep end for this reviewer, but a joy of a challenge nevertheless.
words BILLIE INGRAM SOFOKLEOUS