This review was originally written for The Reviews Hub: http://www.thereviewshub.com
Being presented simultaneously in London and Mexico City and given the alternative title The Mockery of the Soul, Mexican writer Diego Sosa’s 90-minute one-act play is a modern take on the Faust story. The “aff” tagged onto the title is claimed to relate to Shakespeare’s Falstaff, but there is no obvious reference to the mischievous Knight in the play itself. Gily Jacoby (Lesley Lightfoot) is a writer who sells her soul to achieve success and save her ailing father. An impish manifestation of the Devil (Eddie Chamberlin) works with her to develop plots that grow ever more macabre and she becomes obsessed with the thin line between fiction and fact. Is art imitating life or life imitating art? Maybe Gily has been given powers of clairvoyance to write about horrific real events that have yet to happen. Jonson Wilkinson appears as Gily’s caring editor, concerned by her erratic behaviour, and also as the sinister killer in enactments of her stories, whose relationship with his fiancé (Alessia Gatti) is forecast to come to a bloody end. The prevailing tone is of a surreal and sinister melodrama, but two comic policemen (Bernard O’Sullivan and Charles Timson) bring a strain of absurdist humour that feels incongruous. In examining the travails of a writer, Sosa’s piece could be considered introspective, the non-linear narrative jumping backwards and forwards in time and between fact and fiction. Gily’s nervous unease as her torment edges towards madness is brought out very effectively in Lightfoot’s performance. If some of Sosa’s dialogue sounds stilted, it may be due to translation difficulties, but, more significantly, Mexican director Rodrigo Johnson’s production, performed in the round on a darkened stage, has not yet acquired the polish and flow that it needs. Partly as a result of this, the various elements in a potentially intriguing work do not always hold together and the play baffles as often as it beguiles.
Performance date: 19 November 2015