Faustus is a brilliant but embittered academic, a solitary scholar who has exhausted the confines of human knowledge. Frustrated with the futility of religion, law and science he is desperate for a deeper understanding of the universe – and for the worldwide fame that it will bring. Risking everything, he conjures the demon Mephistophilis and asks him to strike a deal with Lucifer. Twenty four years of absolute knowledge and infinite power in exchange for his soul.
Despite being tormented by doubt, Faustus agrees to the deal and signs in blood. But as he begins to revel in his new powers, the world around him starts to collapse and the clock inexorably counts down to the final moment of reckoning.
Sandy Grierson (The Tempest, Twelfth Night, The Comedy of Errors 2012) and Oliver Ryan (As You Like It and Hamlet 2013) are sharing the roles of the embittered academic Faustus and the demon Mephistophilis. Each night, the decision as to who plays Doctor Faustus and who plays Mephistophilis is made live on stage. Both actors enter, light a match and watch it burn. Whoever's match goes out first 'loses' and will play the damned Doctor.
Maria Aberg (The White Devil 2014 and As You Like It 2013) returns to the RSC to direct Marlowe's notorious tale of vanity, greed and damnation.
Following a run at the Swan Theatre, Doctor Faustus transfers to London's Barbican for a limited season until 1 October 2016.