Guildford Opera Company

Group: Guildford Opera Company

Show: Faust

Venue: Electric Theatre, Guildford

Date: Friday 24th November 2023

Director: Stephen Oliver

Musical Director: Lewis Gaston

Faust– a story which highlights the pitfalls of trying to recapture one’s youth and the outcomes thereof. A complex story with wonderful music. The society really rose to the occasion with an excellent well-rounded production despite all the hurdles they faced on the night.

The pre-show talk was given by the extremely well-informed director, Stephen Oliver together with the MD Lewis Gaston. They inspired and educated the audience in equal measure in preparation for the performance.

The direction by Stephen Oliver, was nicely inventive, from the scaffolding framed doors and windows adorned with gauze to the creativity of the witches/devils costumes, from the use of imagery to the practical use of stage scenery all were a delight. The scenery enabled the actors good space in which to develop their characters.

In the opening Joshua Baxter, very ably playing Faust, created a tense atmosphere of despair. His singing was melodic, but his movements could have made his age more credible. The arrival of Mephistopheles (Kiefer Jones) broke the tension and his command of the stage and superb delivery of his songs created an excellent contrast. Sadly, both Callie Gaston (Margarete) and Kate Lowe (Siebel) were unable to sing however their acting and miming were first rate - not an easy role to keep up throughout a performance. They were substituted by Eleanor Janes and Rebecca Hughes respectively. Both were a delight to listen to and the positioning above the orchestra and beside the stage enabled them to be close to the action and easily heard. Well done ladies. Marthe, the neighbour of Margarete, sang with great clarity and emotion.

Valentin played by Harry Heaven was a delight to listen to and he acted the part of the concerned brother extremely well. His comrade in arms Wagner took command of the stage each time he entered and drew admiring glances from the chorus. The principals had all developed clear characters and maintained their purpose throughout.

The chorus were well drilled and made their entrances and exits smoothly. The dancers were superb. Every entry entailed a different style of dance and the scene when they entered as demons was exceptionally well choreographed with all those extra arms.

The inspired direction of Stephen Oliver created a really well thought through production which achieved the mystery and passion required. The music was beautiful and the orchestra’s exposition of the melodies was exquisite thanks to the expert interpretation by MD Lewis Gaston.

The Production:

Kay Rowan – South East Regional Councillor

Faust Review