Theatre Review: Faust

Everyman Theatre Cork.

Theatre Review: Faust

The latest combined work by Cork’s Everyman Theatre and Operatic Society, which opened last Friday night, is a rich experience.

Gounod’s opera, usually seen on a huge stage with vast space around the singers, is here transformed into an intimate and excitingly personal experience, within what must be one of the most charming late-Victorian theatres still extant.

The smallness of the space is turned to advantage.

The full-scale orchestra is accommodated not only within the limited area to the front, but also in the side boxes and even elevated above the stage itself, in individual galleries. This provides a most satisfying auditory effect.

Faust has a strong storyline and, in the hands of director John O’Brien, drama and horror are fully explored. Jung Soo Yun’s desperate scholar, snatching at life, was superbly sung, while Julian Tovey was a commanding Mephistopheles.

Star of the evening, however, was Cara O’Sullivan in the demanding role of Marguerite. She has never sung better.

Her arias were pure and beautiful, while her agony of mind as the mistreated victim, was movingly convincing.

One always expects the unusual from this award-winning team, but last Friday night’s surprise moment was quite something.

As the soldiers returned from the war with that famous rousing chorus, O’Brien swivelled smartly round from his conductor’s plinth to direct the Barrack Street Brass Band, lined up at the back of the auditorium.

The applause, and even shrieks of delight, from the audience were instant.

At the final standing ovation, O’Brien summoned his creative team onstage to take a bow.

More than anything else, these incredible productions have shown just how effective total group involvement can be. Cork is fortunate to hold winning combinations like this.

Final shows Friday and Saturday

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