In the week that HBO’s Game of Thrones returns to television with a corpse of Jon Snow, the owner of that corpse, Kit Harington, returns to the London stage.
In 2010, in Posh at the Royal Court, he would have been able to slip in and out of the theatre without much notice. But now, six seasons into the madly successful GoT, he’s causing a commotion every night in St Martin’s Lane – the like of which hasn’t been seen since Madonna worked in the vicinity.
So what’s Harington like on stage? Fortunately this isn’t a star vehicle that he has to drive all by himself, although from a jumpy start he does gain control as the unrepentant Doctor who sells his soul to the Devil in return for 24 years of magic powers.
Billed as a play by Christopher Marlowe and Colin Teevan, it is a fascinating sandwich of Elizabethan theological and philosophical discussion about predestination with Teevan’s clever modern-day insert in the middle developing a theme of celebrity and performance (in a version first produced in 2013 at Glasgow Citizens Theatre in a co-production with West Yorkshire Playhouse).
Craig Stein, Kit Harington and Tom Edden in Doctor Faustus
Jenna Russell is powerful as a female sex-pest of a Mephistopheles and Tom Edden threatens to steal the show as all Seven Deadly Sins.
Director Jamie Lloyd gives the nightmare vision a horror-film treatment — from the staring undead in dirty undies invading Faustus’s space to the spine-shivering moment when he summons Lucifer. The whole thing helter-skelters towards the chaos of Hell at screaming speed, through the Doctor’s years as a now famous magician, on stage, off stage, with puking devils, foaming at the mouth, through strobe-lit rave and sexual transgression.
It’s a production fizzing with energy that’s squarely aimed at a young audience. It won’t, as a result, be to everyone’s taste.
Doctor Faustus is at Duke of York’s Theatre until Saturday 25 June