Dr. Atomic in the wink of an eye

The twin themes of morality and science are the two ideas that make up the core of the Faust legend, so it should not be that huge of a surprise that De McAnuff would be alluding to the fact that he is considering Robert J. Oppenheimer. This year the Coliseum will see Dr. Atomic once more humming more recognizable tunes and with a new lease on life as the old tale takes on a very fresh life when McAnuff takes it on. After all, the American is one of the most successful Broadway musical directors out there.

You can see his flashy influence from the start when the very first thing to hit the stage is a large photo of Faust (who is played by Toby Spence) and then the monochrome image suddenly blinks. You have to wonder what happens during that blink, but you can rest assured that it is symbolic of what is yet to come. The staging puts the audience down in the laboratory of Faust with a neon gantry that sports some spiral staircases that lead into the area where he is able to play life and death as God thanks to science.

From there you can only go up and the scene does when the Walpurgis Night takes place that show off the walking dead of the atomic Armageddon brought on by Faust. The execution of the entire play is very sharp and you can see that McAnuff put plenty of his own great ideas into the show. However, while you might originally applaud him for leaving some aspects of the musical drama alone, you do wonder where the great theatrical excitement is that usually follows his productions as it takes a while to get a point of grandeur and excess.