Review: Edward Snowden’s puppet pact with the devil

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Faust puppet show review
(Picture: Little Angel Theatre)

(Picture: Little Angel Theatre)

You might have heard the story of Faust – a man who makes a pact with the devil. Well did you know The Little Angel Theatre is retelling the tale with puppets in the wake of Edward Snowden’s NSA revelations?

The theatre’s latest show – an update of Elizabethan playwright Christopher Marlowe’s Dr Faustus – has upheld its reputation for spooky and offbeat adult performances.

Faust [Redacted] is a new play from touring puppet company, Touched Theatre, as part of Little Angel’s FIRSTS festival performed last Monday night.

Little Angel Firsts festivalThe medieval story of Dr Faustus, a doctor who trades his soul in return for wordly secrets, has been given a fresh twenty first century twist exploring the world of Wikileaks and hacking.

Faustus is recast as Edward Snowden and is portrayed as a young, naive computer hacker who wants to change the world with knowledge obtained from mysterious demons – but who ends up corrupted and tormented by the power it brings him.

The attempt to fasten an Elizabethan morality play onto the modern debate about hacking and ethics in a digital world is a peculiar choice and one that  I believe doesn’t really work. Whatever your opinion of Snowden’s actions, he is not the corrupted figure I see in Faustus. I struggle to see the parallel.

The show did experiment with modern technology in an interesting way. The projection of computer codes, videos of modern people and politicians onto the central stage made us feel like we were part of the cloistered and whizzing world of a computer genius.

Faust Little Angel Theater
(Picture: Little Angel Theatre)

The use of Skype and other new media gave the play a fresh edge, but it still feels a bit shallow. A segment parodying reality television – that went on far too long – tried too hard to be edgy and funny.

During this set piece, it seemed the producers were deliberately trying to shock, which made me feel uncomfortable.

The company clearly wanted to prove that puppets weren’t just for kids seeing as they resorted to shock tactics and crude sex jokes.

While I found the spooky ambience entertaining, and Faustus’ wooden puppet oddly beautiful, the show was far too macabre and disquieting for me personally.

Some might enjoy the surreal experience of Snowden as a puppet, but it wasn’t for me.