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 and Oliver Ryan shared 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 was made live on stage. Both actors entered, lit a match and watched it burn. Whoever's match went out first 'lost' and played the damned Doctor.
Maria Aberg directed Marlowe's notorious tale of vanity, greed and damnation for the Swan Theatre during summer 2016, before it transferred to the Barbican.