Playing Faustus

Written and directed by Imogen de la Bere

24th – 27th March 2010
OVO @ Sumpter Yard

12th / 13th June 2010
OVO @ Pudding Lane







A group of actors, performing Dr Faustus, finds the play ignites passions in them that threaten destruction. But the drama of good and evil in our age is altogether more subtle. For us, no unbreakable pact with evil; no eternal damnation; no stroke-of-midnight redemption - only the mundane loss of hope and love, and the ordinary human struggle to find them once more. OVO presents the world premiere of the first play by three times novelist Imogen de la Bere.

Click here to view the video trailer.

Click here to view performance photos.

Click here to view rehearsal photos.

St Albans theatre group puts faith in Faust
1st April 2010

IT'S no small achievement these days to be a published novelist but Imogen de la Bere has gone a step further by staging her first drama, Playing Faustus.

She handed her opus over to St Albans drama group OVO for its first outing and can only have been delighted with the way members responded both to her writing and directorship.

The result was a clever and compelling play at OVO at Sumpter Yard which combined the words of Christopher Marlowe with the prose of Imogen de la Bere to great effect.

The play, by Imogen's own admission, stemmed from the difficulties of staging Dr Faustus and grew from an unpublished novel of hers which she wrapped around the notion of a small company putting on the Marlowe classic.

Consequently, she was able to incorporate some of Marlowe's finest lines from the original while bringing the story bang up to date.

To paraphrase, the story of Faustus who sold his soul to the Devil is replicated - albeit to a far lesser degree - by the plight of Anglican priest Stephen who is at odds with his calling and drawn particularly to a couple of the Seven Deadly Sins.

In the same way as Faustus crashes so does Stephen and the fallout shakes his little world in a not dissimilar manner.

Imogen, who lives and works in St Albans, wrote the play for a small theatre and small company but there is no doubt that it would transfer successfully to a larger venue. It is certainly good enough to fulfil her hope of seeing it performed at the Edinburgh Festival.
With OVO she is blessed with a strong acting team - her "stellar cast" as she describes them - and their enthusiasm for the play is palpable.

From Will Franklin's opening lines which sounded like they were being read by Boris Johnston to the constant ringing of Ian Jordan's mobile phone and the final epilogue from Anna Franklin, Playing Faustus is a delight.

It combines humour - great karaoke performances by Kieran Cummins as Brian and Faith Turner and Anna Franklin as Helen (geddit) and Emma - with plenty of pathos.

It also takes a long hard look at the Anglican church and what it can do to those most involved in it - Stephen and his long-suffering and extremely Christian wife Margaret.

David Widdowson as Stephen is always a pleasure to watch and his interpretation of the "fall" of Stephen is both dramatic and believable.

But it is the plight of Margaret, excellent characterisation by Alison Wright, which tugs at the heartstrings as she struggles to cope with her life and her erring husband.

Faith Turner as Stephen's own Helen turns in a remarkable performance, part ingénue and part woman of the world, and it is easy to see why Stephen's head is turned by her.

Playing Faustus is an excellent first play by Imogen de la Bere who already has two more ideas in the pipeline which OVO is surely hoping will come to fruition sooner rather than later.


Audience Feedback

Really privileged to have been at last night's world premiere - it was spellbinding.

I was expecting it to be good, it was brilliant! Well done, Imogen and cast!

I am in awe! The play was superb.

Terrific! Congratulations to all involved.

We loved the play, the production and the acting; a great night out.

I thought the play was very complex (I loved the interweaving of the Marlowe into the fabric of the play), but not too heavy, and also of course very funny, as well as dramatic and moving.

The play was amazing and the cast were all brilliant. We loved it.

It surely can't get any better than that performance.

Congratulations for a superb show.  Clever writing and lovely performances.

You must be feeling very proud and deservedly so! What an achievement.

Such a terrific entertainment but more than that... a team of actors clearly believing in one another's talents and, collectively, rising to the script.

The play was superbly written; I cannot remember any part of it that slackened off. It succeeds in capturing the torments of Faustus and damnation at the same time as getting deep down into to the 'grey' moral/amoral world of today, and finding common ground with the original inspiration.

Great success as a 'play within a play ' and with unexpected humour, including the inspired use of the pub karaoke scenes.

In all it is an expertly crafted and outstanding play that is brilliantly and convincingly acted; it deserves to be seen by many, many more people. It MUST be seen more widely... it is far too good to be just a local endeavour.


Stephen - David Widdowson
Margaret - Alison Wright
Helen - Faith Turner
Emma - Anna Franklin
Rupert - Will Franklin
Sam - Ian Jordan
Brian - Kieran Cummins

Creative Team

Director - Imogen de la Bere
Stage Managers - Rob Ferguson, Sue Russell-Curtis
Lighting Designer - Dorian Brook
Lighting and Sound Operator - Clare Myerscough
Movement Director and Teacher -  Jenny Ayres
Graphic Artist -  Tiggi Harding
Graphic Designer, Media and PR Co-ordinator -  Adam Nichols
Cinematographer - Simon Nicholas