16 December 2011

The Classic Tale of Faust

The Classic Tale of Faust
RAG Theatre and the City of Port Phillip
16 December
Latvian House, 3 Dickens St, St Kilda
to 17 December (1.30 and 7.30)
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No more reviews for 2011, but you don't need a review to be convinced to see RAG Theatre's The Classic Tale of Faust.

RAG Theatre is supported by the City of Port Phillip and creates opportunities for people who experience barriers to arts participation. In other words, this is theatre created by folk who aren't stuffy theatre people – and they want to have fun.

So drop all arty pretentiousness and get ready to enjoy yourself. And you get to play in the too-wonderful Latvian House in St Kilda with its mosaics, hand-carved wooden chandeliers and brown 70s decor (it's cooler than the Lithuanian Club).

Here, you're greeted by the suave and serious members of the company (who accepted me even though I'd worn orange Crocs) and you're free to chat about art and writing and sophisticated cultural shit before the main show.

But there are troubles backstage and the actor playing Mephistopheles has sent a replacement who doesn't know his lines. Luckily, there's a cafe where we can wait, the cast and crew can be convinced to share their festive acts and the Lativan Women's Group have left fresh pirags and vodka.

With acts including a maths quiz (finally!), poetry and delightfully atrocious Christmas sketches, each performer hints at the Faustian theme of soul bearing by letting us see the bits of their selves that they want to share.

Director Scott Gooding helped the RAG cast create their Faust in workshops and each have developed characters that are true to their skills, confidence and personalities. Everyone's performance starts with their heart, hints at secrets and shows us just how redemptive a wicked sense of humour really is.

And just when you think you know what's going on, there's twists that surprise and remind us that there's more to everyone's stories than what we think we know.

There's only three shows left, so if you can't go tonight, there's 1.30 or 7.30 tomorrow.